Research Reveals Why Some Alaskan Rivers Turning Orange

Rivers and streams in the state known as the “last” frontier, Alaska, have been turning orange. Experts have been struggling to determine the cause of this phenomenon for some time, but recent research may be revealing climate change as the answer for this occurrence. Some scientists suspect that the change in color may be caused by increasingly thawing permafrost. The permafrost may be released trapped minerals into water that was previously crystal clear. This development is significant because the drinking water of Alaskans and the health of fish and other wildlife in the region may now be at risk. 

In some very unique regions of the world, water is naturally orange. In the region known as the “Pine Barrens” of southern New Jersey, many of the rivers, lakes, creeks, and streams in the area are tainted brown or orange, giving off a murky, dirty appearance. The reality though, is that this is the furthest thing from the truth. The water has been naturally orange for centuries due to the areas high iron-content. The extremely sandy soil, cedar and pine tannins have all combined to form the orange color. Additionally, the natural acidity of these materials contributes to the promotion of oxidization and bacteria that helps form iron. The area was known in early colonial area America for its vast iron forges and company towns. There are more abandoned towns in the southern New Jersey pinelands than in any other region in the nation. Additionally, the water, although tasting like iron, is naturally quite clean, and it considered one of the safest and purest water sources in the country as the sand acts like a natural filter that makes the water quite safe to drink.

This sand though may also be the downfall of the area as well, as the soils sandy nature makes the ecosystem fragile and vulnerable to pollution. This is why the pinelands were preserved in the 1970s.