Arctic Graves May Expose Danger

Old Yakutian cemetery, siberia

Old Yakutian cemetery where the deep thawing has exceeded one meter. Array photo.

This is something global warming proponents could not have predicted when temperatures began to rise faster than expected in the Arctic. Is it possible that a disease that has been eradicated from the world could reemerge again?

Scientists from Russia are worried that deadly diseases such as smallpox and anthrax could be released back into the human population via the thawing of ground covering Arctic graves in a report released by The Sun UK. An anthrax outbreak in the Yamal peninsula last year caused the death of one child and nearly 2,500 reindeer. Thawing reindeer graves is blamed on this particular outbreak and was fairly harmless to people though the fear that smallpox could be released in the same fashion is now prevalent.

Disinfection of the territory in the area of anthrax outbreak in Yamal. Siberian Times photo.

Russian scientists are concerned that smallpox could be released from Arctic graves in Siberia where thawing is occurring three times faster than usual. Climate change is the driving factor behind the melting scientists argue.

The primary concern stems from an 1890’s  smallpox epidemic that killed almost half the population in eastern Siberia. Boris Kerhengolts, Deputy Director for research at the Institiute of Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone in Yakutsk, issued a concerning statement; “during the 1890s, a major epidemic of smallpox occurred in a town near the Kolyma River in eastern Siberia, and up to 40 percent of the population died. Their bodies were quickly buried under the upper layer of permafrost soil. A little more than 100 years later, Kolyma’s flood waters have started eroding the banks.”

Mikhail Grigoriev, Deputy Director of the Permafrost Studies Institute, says “The rock and soil that forms the Yamal Peninsula contains much ice, melting may loosen the soil rather quickly, so the probability is high that old cattle graves may come to the surface.”

Dangers other than smallpox and anthrax might be released from the shallow Arctic graves. Increased melting will possibly unveil centuries – old dangers in the near future.

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