Home / news / There’s a hidden consequence of climate change: A deadly virus that’s killing key marine species | Melting Arctic sea ice has opened new pathways for Arctic and sub-Arctic species to interact, and that contact has introduced a potentially deadly virus to mammals in the Northern Pacific Ocean – study

There’s a hidden consequence of climate change: A deadly virus that’s killing key marine species | Melting Arctic sea ice has opened new pathways for Arctic and sub-Arctic species to interact, and that contact has introduced a potentially deadly virus to mammals in the Northern Pacific Ocean – study

There’s a hidden consequence of climate change: A deadly virus that’s killing key marine species | Melting Arctic sea ice has opened new pathways for Arctic and sub-Arctic species to interact, and that contact has introduced a potentially deadly virus to mammals in the Northern Pacific Ocean – study

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  1. Welp, time to add deadly ancient virus to the list that will potentially destroy humanity

  2. (CNN) — Climate change means melting ice and habitat loss for animals in the Arctic. But there’s an invisible side effect of warming temperatures and rising tides, and it’s killing key marine species.

    Melting Arctic sea ice has opened new pathways for Arctic and sub-Arctic species to interact, and that contact has introduced a potentially deadly virus to mammals in the Northern Pacific Ocean, according to a new study in Scientific Reports.

    Over 15 years, researchers identified two new channels linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Russia and Alaska. Animals who live there are interacting for the first time, creating a reservoir of the deadly pathogen Phocine distemper virus.

    The virus, also called PDV, was first identified in European harbor seals, killing thousands in 1988 and again in 2002. It reemerged in 2004, but this time in northern sea otters in Alaska.

    It was surprising that the disease jumped to a different species in a different ocean, said study author Tracey Goldstein, associate director of One Health Institute at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. It’s what led scientists to believe that melting ice was to blame for the infection’s spread.

    “Animal health and human health and environmental health are so linked, if one deteriorates then the rest do, too,” she told CNN.

    Infection peaked when ice was at its lowest

    To evaluate the extent of the infection, researchers took nasal swabs and blood samples from more than 2,500 ice-dwelling seals, Steller sea lions and northern sea otters from Alaska to Russia living in its marginal seas and oceans.

    Widespread exposure to the infection peaked twice, in 2003 and 2009. Both outbreaks were preceded by record-low sea ice, Goldstein said.

    Ice is essential for marine mammals, she said. It’s where they breed, rest and give birth. When water temperatures warm, their food likely travels deeper into the ocean, so animals are traveling further to catch them, spreading the pathogen across large swaths of northern seas.

    Animals can’t keep up with the rate of their rapidly changing environments, Goldstein said, and that makes them more susceptible to disease.

    PDV has already impacted people

    Goldstein compared PDV to measles in humans — both are highly contagious respiratory diseases that spreads easily through contact (though PDV doesn’t infect humans).

    But it’s already indirectly impacted humans who rely on the animals. It’s harder for Alaskans to hunt and maintain their livelihood as seals and fish move further off-shore, she said.

    Because the Arctic is so remote, it’s difficult to discern how many species have died from the virus since the start of the study, she said. Some, particularly European harbor seals, are more vulnerable than others — up to 50% of the harbor seal population died in the first two outbreaks, she said.

    Outbreaks occur every five to 10 years, typically when ice is at its lowest. Sea ice cover in the Arctic hit its second-lowest level in 2019, according to NASA — and that could mean new paths opened up, linking animals in both oceans and increasing the likelihood of the virus’s reintroduction.

    Eliminating the virus may be impossible, but humans can at least stall its spread, Goldstein said. Reducing the global carbon footprint can slow the effects of climate change and give animals a chance to catch up and adapt.

  3. Fuck. We’re all going to die.

  4. Well isn’t that just fantastic news

  5. Oh goddamnit thats all we need right now.

  6. So we’re all dead. Got it.

  7. From the study:

    Increased levels of PDV exposure or infection in the sampled animals were associated with the presence of an open water route along the Russian coast. Reductions in sea ice extent created open water routes to the Pacific Ocean along the northern Russian coast (Fig. 1) in August and/or September of 2000, 2002, 2005-2006, and 2008–2015, with the open water routes in 2002, 2005, and 2008 following a year in which sea ice blocked passage through at least part of the Arctic Ocean bordering Russia’s coast. When controlling for animal group and age class, presence of an open water route along the northern Russian coast following a year in which the Arctic sea ice along the Russian coast was closed was significantly associated with PDV exposure or infection (Table 1, model 1). The odds of PDV exposure or infection were 3.1 times higher (95% CI: 2.2–4.2) in animals sampled in a year following one of these complete openings in the Russian coast sea ice in August–September of the previous year. In contrast, presence of an open water route along the Canadian coast, which existed in August and/or September of 2006–2007, 2010–2012, and 2015, was negatively associated with PDV exposure or infection (OR: 0.7; 95% CI: 0.5–0.9).

  8. Wait so humans can carry it but it doesn’t effect us?

  9. People always have gone on about how climate change is going to cause huge changes to temperature, causing flooding and extreme weather.

    Thats literally the least of our worries.

    Inside the arctic there’s prehistoric viruses and spores, that we have no immunity to. Combine that with progressively increasing anti-bacterial resistance, and drug companies that don’t develop new alternatives because ‘its not economically viable’ and sink their cash into hair loss treatment.

  10. Is this the new thing to be scared of?

  11. Sounds eerily similar to the plot of The Talus Principle, if anyone here knows that game.

    Spoiler Alert: >!Humanity went extinct before the game even begins.!<

  12. Do you want a Zombie Apocalypse? Because that’s how you get a Zombie Apocalypse

  13. Cascade effects all over.. 🙁

  14. The kicker: We’re mammals.

  15. I will be building an ark if anyone would like to join. No Christians allowed though because I plan to start my own type of Christian religion once the water recedes!

  16. Deadly Virus.
    Rising Sea Levels.
    Forest Fires.
    Leaking Plutonium into Sea.
    Hurricanes.
    Unpredictable Weather.

    Some of the things we have to deal with thanks to climate change. People need to be in jail or executed for this shit.

  17. I’ve studied and worked with climate change since 2005, and recently graduated with degrees from Stanford on CC and related subjects.

    This isn’t how we should be talking about Climate Change. Talking about ‘hidden consequences’ of climate change is sensationalist. The entire field of cc is trying understand the dynamics, find solutions for mitigation, practices for adaptation, and keep an outlook for new consequences. We are constantly finding new consequences; they are nearly infinite.

    Saying ‘there’s a hidden consequence’ implies that we have this shit figured out, but there’s one more secret we didn’t know about! No. It’s a chaos monster and all of its consequences are hidden and unknown. This is why cutting off its food supply and killing it before it gets any bigger is paramount; it threatens all life on this planet in a thousand ways we don’t even know about yet. We do not stand a chance in combating Climate Change in an open field; there is no geoengineering or adaptation that is going to save life on the planet.

    Kill the chaos monster ASAP, like, 30 years ago.

  18. I’m currently reading world war z and this news isn’t sitting well with me.

  19. I’ve got the answer. We spray the Arctic with Lysol and hope that bacteria is part of the 99.9%. If that bacteria is part of the .01% we’re all doomed.

  20. I’m curious as to how animals could adapt to this and if they can how long it would take.

  21. Seeing as how we’re just finding it now means it’s probably in full swing already, so that’s too bad.

  22. You would think that with more than 7.7 billion people that someone would have figured out what the problem is !

  23. I’m kind of curious to see what is let loose if Antarctica ever melts

  24. Climate anxiety has now completely taken over and the less I know the better. r/uplifting news won’t save me now.

  25. >There’s a hidden consequence of climate change

    Get a clue. There are innumerable hidden consequences.

  26. People don’t get it.

    Yes, the climate has changed in the past, yes, even when humans existed, however, today we are far more vulnerable because:

    * There are almost 8bn people on earth
    * A person can travel almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours and air travel is affordable by 100’s of millions
    * Global supply chains are interdependent and the consequences of disruption are far reaching

    We don’t live in small tribes anymore, climate changes has ways of screwing us we can barely calculate

  27. Under the sea under the sea and

    There will be no accusations just dead crustaceans under the seaaaa

  28. Jeez, and I thought the known unknowns were bad enough.

  29. Well, its not like the old farts that are in ‘charge’ of ‘us’ will do anything about it. They rather sit on their ass, making money they’re not going to spend on useful things.
    I believe we are ‘f*cked’ and won’t make a change unless you make a profitable (and i mean very profitable) company that can fight this shit. We’re passed the point of non profit organizations to help ‘save’ the planet. It’s time for profit organizations, because thats what these people in charge like the most —-MONEY—- more useless credit on their bank-account to pay for stuff they dont need just to feel a little better than their neighbor. Some super virus thats going to appear 20 years after their deaths will not make them ‘move’. I guess we’re done for..

  30. yeah… i’ve always thought, it’s not really going to be like… giant hurricanes. that humanity will just get used to… maybe eventually some areas will be wiped out, but what evs.

    what will kill us will be some misc thing we didn’t account for, like this virus, let’s say it kills off all marine mamals in like 5 years. Or say some slight rise in temperature allows some blight on crops to spread like wildfire. like say 3/4ths of the worlds corn or rice dies.

    yup. hope you enjoy watching your kids die

  31. Hold up…how does melting sea ice open up new pathways to land? Shouldnt the solid ice sheets not the water enable that?

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