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October 17, 2019 Thursday 01:48:40 PM IST

Airborne bacteria from ocean seeding clouds

Science Innovations

New research finds Arctic Ocean currents and storms are moving bacteria from ocean algae blooms into the atmosphere where the particles help clouds form. These particles, which are biological in origin, can affect weather patterns throughout the world, according to the new study in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Particles suspended in air called aerosols can sometimes accelerate ice crystal formation in clouds, impacting weather patterns. Such ice-nucleating particles include dust, smoke, pollen, fungi and bacteria.Pure water droplets in clouds don't freeze until roughly minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit). They are supercooled below their freezing point but still remain as liquid. Aerosols raise the base freezing temperature in supercooled clouds to minus five degrees Celsius, by providing a surface for water to crystalize on, and creating clouds mixed with supercooled droplets.

The Polar Regions are experiencing rapid warming which could cause more algae blooms to get airborne and seed clouds.


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