EntertainmentAlaska's once blue rivers now flow with alarming orange hues

Alaska's once blue rivers now flow with alarming orange hues

Rusty rivers and streams of Alaska are becoming a problem
Rusty rivers and streams of Alaska are becoming a problem
Images source: © Youtube | YouTube - UC Davis CAES

8:38 AM EDT, May 24, 2024

Dozens of rivers and streams in Alaska are changing color. The once crystal-clear blue water is becoming rusty and sometimes even orange. Scientists are doing everything they can to find out what is causing these troubling changes. They suspect that the problem is the release of elements from the soil.

Disturbing news is reaching us from Alaska. The once crystal-clear blue waters in rivers and streams increasingly take on rusty, sometimes even orange hues. This information has alarmed scientists and specialists who are determined to uncover the cause of this phenomenon. It seems they have managed to establish the most probable scenario. Unfortunately, they don't have good news.

A team of specialists from the United States Geological Survey, the University of California, Davis, and many other centers has worked tirelessly to discover the cause of Alaska's rusty rivers and streams. To determine exactly what was happening, they examined the orange water by collecting 75 samples from an area the size of Texas. They attribute the troubling changes to substances released by the melting permafrost.

Rusty and orange rivers in Alaska worry scientists

Studies conducted by specialists leave no doubt. Substances formed as a result of melting permafrost are the cause of the murky and orange water. Let's remember that the Arctic is the fastest-warming region in the world. This means its minerals flow into the water when the frozen ground thaws. Scientists are concerned that this could affect drinking water and fisheries in watersheds.

"The more we flew around, we started noticing more and more orange rivers and streams. There are certain sites that look almost like milky orange juice. Those orange streams can be problematic both in terms of being toxic but might also prevent migration of fish to spawning areas," said Jon O'Donnell, lead author of the study and ecologist from the Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network NPS, in a media interview.

Scientists emphasize that the frozen soil contains many elements. Due to the warming climate, various previously inaccessible metals are now exposed to both water and oxygen, leading to different chemical reactions. Unfortunately, the problem is genuinely troubling and severe. Researchers have discovered elevated levels of iron, zinc, nickel, copper, and cadmium in the waters. Rivers and streams need to be additionally treated.

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