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DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-05-18

Could thawing permafrost unleash long-gone deadly viruses?

In the remote town of Longyearbyen, in Norway’s Arctic region, the ground is permanently frozen. As temperatures rise, the thawing permafrost could open a Pandora's box, with unpredictable consequences. The Down to Earth team reports.

It may look pristine and barren, but the permafrost is not void of life. On the contrary, there is a world of organisms living in it. The permafrost is, in fact, a massive freezer. It’s cold, dark, and there’s not much oxygen. In other words, it's the ideal place for bacteria and viruses to survive intact for thousands of years. But the permafrost may not remain frozen for much longer. According to scientists, the Arctic soil’s temperature has already increased by up to one degree Celsius.

So could thawing permafrost unleash long-gone deadly viruses? And how dangerous could this be? The Down to Earth team travelled to the town to Longyearbyen in Norway to find out.

This report was produced with the support of Norwegian.

By Florence VILLEMINOT , Marina BERTSCH , Jonathan WALSH , Sonia BARITELLO

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Archives

2018-06-15 Molly HALL

Iran's water crisis

It's an environmental issue that's become a thorny political problem. Iran has been experiencing severe drought for several years. A growing population, increased water...

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2018-06-01 Marina BERTSCH

France’s disappearing birds

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2018-05-04 Florence VILLEMINOT

Will cleaner air accelerate global warming?

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2018-04-20 Florence VILLEMINOT

Can France bid 'adieu' to popular weedkiller glyphosate?

France is Europe's top agricultural producer and also its top consumer of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in history. Each year, nearly 8,000 tons of it are used in...

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