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Rivers are turning orange in America

Rivers are turning orange in America

A U.S. government study found a phenomenon that counts more than 70 waterways that have turned orange due to the climate crisis in Alaskan rivers.

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Published in the magazine NatureThe study was carried out by the Arctic Climate Change Observatory, which is made up of five parks in northern Alaska, the only US national parks located in the Arctic.

The phenomenon of orange rivers is caused by the melting of permafrost due to the climate crisis in the Arctic., A frozen layer of soil, which leached large amounts of toxic metals into the water.

The researchers had the idea for this new study after visiting one of these orange rivers in 2018, which previously had a normal color.

Satellite images reveal that orange rivers began appearing in the US in 2008. Brett Bowlin, one of the study’s authors, points out that the rivers would have to be highly polluted to see this color from space.

River pollution may increase in coming decades

Chemical analyzes of the study reveal that the rivers contain high levels of zinc, nickel, copper, cadmium and iron. Researchers also found that this polluted water is acidic. Some small streams had a pH close to 2.3, which corresponds to the acid value of vinegar.

As with the high metal concentrations in these orange rivers, the acidity is also a result of melting permafrost. The climate crisis is causing permafrost to melt, exposing previously sealed minerals to rain for the first time in thousands of years.

This exposure causes minerals to dissolve from the rocks and enter surrounding streams, thus flowing into larger rivers.

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Alaska's Rusting Rivers: Critical Impact of Permafrost Banks on Arctic Rivers

The rivers in this part of the US are not only orange in color, but also full of minerals that endanger most aquatic life. The researchers also warn of the dangers these contaminated waters pose to spawning fish, which could have major consequences for U.S. fisheries.

The scientists responsible for the study plan to conduct experiments later this year to determine the extent of the problem. However, they fear that the permafrost will melt further as a result of last year’s heat, potentially releasing more metals into rivers. Pollution will get worse as temperatures rise in the coming decades.