OREANDA-NEWS Scientists of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered nearly a thousand species of bacteria in snow and ice samples collected from Tibetan glaciers, according to Phys.org.

It is noted that ice sheets and glaciers cover approximately 10% of the Earth's surface, and also serve as the largest reservoir of fresh water.

The scientists collected snow and ice samples from 21 glaciers in Tibet in 2010-2016, melted them down and tested them to see what was left in the water.

The researchers found 968 unique bacterial species, 98% of which had never been seen before. The results were announced after a study of another team that recently discovered several viruses in 15000-year-old ice, and most of the species have never been known before.

According to the scientists, some of these bacteria and viruses can be infectious for animals and humans, and as snow and ice melt due to climate change, they can get into rivers and streams and thus reach populated areas.

The researchers add that, perhaps, even a bigger problem is connected with the fact that that modern plants and animals, including humans, are not immune to older microbes, which suggests they can be deadly and difficult to treat. Thus, they represent the possibility of local epidemics and possibly pandemics.

It is also stated that the bacteria came from a particularly important part of the world. Melting snow and ice in Tibet feeds several rivers that lead to densely populated areas in China and India. In this regard, experts propose to immediately begin work on the study of microbes that can be spread from glaciers around the world.