French scientists are warning that global warming could lead to viruses that have been preserved in Arctic ice to be unleashed once the ice melts. The scientists say that viruses could be preserved in the ice’s layers, including some that caused global epidemics in the past.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Many studies in the past have warned of the imminent dangers of global warning, but now scientists are warning about another danger: viruses. According to a study conducted by French scientists, permafrost melting could unleash dormant bacteria and viruses of epidemic proportion that have been preserved inside the permafrost for millennia.

The researchers claim that they discovered incredibly resistant viruses in the Arctic permafrost. The scientists explained that this is an environment which allows infectious agents, even those which caused epidemics in the past, to remain dormant.

“Permafrost is a very good preserver of microbes and viruses because it is cold, there is no oxygen and it is dark,” stated Jean-Michel Claverie, evolutionary biologist at Aix-Marseille University in France. “Pathogenic viruses that can infect humans or animals might be preserved in old permafrost layers, including some that have caused global epidemics in the past.”