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Arctic sea ice is declining at an alarming rate. A giant virus could stop that

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Euronews or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University have discovered giant viruses in Greenland’s Arctic ice, which could potentially slow the alarming decline of Arctic sea ice
• The discovery, published in the journal Microbiome, suggests these viruses might inhibit black snow algae that contribute to ice melt

🔭 The context: Arctic sea ice is shrinking by 13% each decade
• Black snow algae bloom on the ice each spring, reducing the ice’s reflectivity and accelerating melting
• Giant viruses, first discovered in the ocean in 1981, are now found in Arctic ice for the first time
• These viruses, larger and more complex than typical viruses, might slow the growth of these harmful algae

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Slowing the melting of Arctic ice is crucial for mitigating global warming
• Arctic ice loss impacts global temperatures, leads to weather extremes, endangers coastal communities, risks food stability, contributes to wildlife decline, and could trigger methane release from permafrost
• The discovery of giant viruses offers a potential natural solution to these pressing issues

⏭️ What's next: Further research will investigate how these giant viruses interact with algae and other microorganisms in the Arctic ice
• Another study by the same research team, expected later this year, will focus on giant viruses infecting microalgae on the Greenland ice sheet
• Researchers will also explore the role of parasitic fungi in controlling algae blooms

💬 One quote: "We don't know a lot about the viruses, but I think they could be useful as a way of alleviating ice melting caused by algal blooms" (Laura Perini, lead researcher from the Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University)

📈 One stat: Arctic sea ice could be completely free by 2040 if the current rate of decline continues

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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