The Undecaying Red Forest of Chernobyl

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[N]early 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster.

According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers — organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay – have suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.

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[T]rees in the infamous Red Forest—an area where all of the pine trees turned a reddish color and then died shortly after the accident—did not seem to be decaying, even 15 to 20 years after the meltdown.

“The gist of our results was that the radiation inhibited microbial decomposition of the leaf litter on the top layer of the soil,” Mousseau says. This means that nutrients aren’t being efficiently returned to the soil.

An undecaying forest sounds like the beginning to a great horror movie. Radioactive ents, maybe. Or alien space worms. So many possibilities…

Via Smithsonian.

This entry was posted in History, Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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