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Alaska's Orange Rivers: Melting permafrost turns water into a toxic solution

Alaska's rivers and streams are turning into orange toxic streams, which is of serious concern to environmentalists and scientists. A study titled "Mobilization of metals from melting permafrost into aquatic ecosystems leads to rusting of Arctic rivers" has shown that dozens of rivers and streams in remote areas of Alaska have turned orange due to melting permafrost.

Scientists have discovered that the melting of permafrost releases minerals consisting of metal ores, which, upon contact with oxygen and water, turn the color of rust. As a result, rivers and streams become toxic, and their acidity reaches the pH2.4 level, which is significantly lower than the normal pH8 value.

The researchers also found high levels of copper, cadmium, zinc, nickel and iron in the water. Iron, in particular, has the strongest effect on changing the color of water.

Orange waters can not only pose a danger to human health and ecosystems, but also hinder the migration of fish to spawning areas. In addition, the bright orange color of the water can be observed even from space.

The problem of orange rivers and streams has been known for a long time. Based on satellite images studied by the authors of the study, such orange-colored rivers have been found since 2008. Scientists fear that this problem may persist and worsen due to ongoing climate change and the melting of permafrost.

In this regard, the authors of the study note the need for further work to study the problem and find ways to restore orange rivers and streams.

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