Researchers believe that global warming is likely to lead to new viral infections in the Arctic

Even in May, when the research was conducted, the crew had to clear snow and drill through two meters of ice in order to reach the lakebed, which serves as a riverbed in the summer for water from melted glaciers.

Researchers believe that global warming is likely to lead to new viral infections in the Arctic

According to study released on Wednesday, a warmer climate could increase the risk of "viral spillover" by exposing viruses in the Arctic to new surroundings and hosts. In order to reproduce and propagate, viruses need hosts like people, animals, plants, or fungus. Occasionally, though, they might jump to a different host that lacks immunity, as was the case during the Covid-19 pandemic.


By analyzing samples from the arctic terrain of Lake Hazen, Canadian scientists sought to learn how climate change would impact spillover risk. According to researcher Graham Colby, who is currently a medical student at the University of Toronto to AFP, it is the largest lake in the world that is totally north of the Arctic Circle and "was absolutely unlike any other location I've been."

Even in May, when the research was conducted, the crew had to clear snow and drill through two meters of ice in order to reach the lakebed, which serves as a riverbed in the summer for water from melted glaciers.
The lake sediment was lifted using ropes and a snowmobile through roughly 300 meters (980 feet) of water, and samples of the genetic messengers and blueprints for life, DNA and RNA, were then sequenced.

The study's principal investigator, associate professor Stephane Aris-Brosou of the biology department at the University of Ottawa, said, "This allowed us to identify what viruses are in a specific environment, as well as what possible hosts are also there." But the team had to look at the corresponding family tree of each virus and host to determine how probable they were to jump hosts.

Associate professor Stephane Aris-Brosou of the University of Ottawa's biology department, who served as the study's primary investigator, said, "This allowed us to identify what viruses present in a certain habitat, as well as what probable hosts are also there." However, to ascertain how likely each virus was to switch hosts, the scientists had to examine the associated family tree of each virus and host.

Researchers warn that neither a real spillover nor a pandemic are being predicted in this study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal.
"The likelihood of dramatic events remains very low," said Audree Lemieux, the study's first author. They also caution that further research is necessary to determine just how great of a gap must exist between viruses and hosts in order to pose a significant risk of spillover. However, they contend that if new potential hosts relocate into formerly hostile areas, increasing temperatures could raise hazards even more.

The team plans to do additional research and surveillance in the area to better understand the hazards. The repercussions of spillover have obviously been witnessed over the last two years, according to Lemieux.

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