Scientists: Warming Climate Could Increase Risk Of Arctic ‘Virus Spillover'

    Scientists: Warming Climate Could Increase Risk Of Arctic ‘Virus Spillover'
    Last updated Oct 20, 2022
    Image credit: AFB [via Aljazeera]


    • According to research published on Wednesday, water from melting glaciers is bringing viruses into contact with new hosts, increasing the risk of "virus spillover" into new populations.[1]
    • A group of Canadian researchers cleared snow and drilled through two meters of ice to sample soil from a riverbed of melted glacier water in the Arctic Circle.[2]
    • Their results found limited evidence of significant differences between viruses and hosts in the riverbed, but pronounced differences were found in samples of the lakebed itself, which was also investigated. Greater differences can be a cause for concern as they are, "directly correlated to the risk of spillover," meaning when viruses jump from one group of hosts (humans, animals, plants or fungi) to another.[3]
    • The authors of the research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal, have cautioned that they're not forecasting an actual spillover or pandemic, saying that, "the likelihood of dramatic events remains very low".[4]
    • Scientists have however used an algorithm to determine the risk of viral spillover, which found that it was greater in lake samples taken from waterways that contain more meltwater from glaciers. As global temperatures rise, glaciers in the area of study are expected to generate more meltwater and, consequently, increase virus spillover risk.[5]


    Narrative A

    Climate change is generating a plethora of threats to our species and this study is one of the latest to confirm what we all know — global warming is creating more and more issues for every living thing on earth, including human beings. Viral spillover and the destruction of habitats are likely to increase the risk of a pandemic in the future — we need to take urgent action to tackle this crisis and curtail climate change related threats.

    Narrative B

    Climate and environmental disasters have been predicted by modern-day doomsayers for decades. None of the apocalyptic predictions have come true so far; why would this time be any different?

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that sea levels will rise by at least 577 millimeters by 2100, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Articles on this story