Episode Summary

Ocean bacteria brought up from the sea floor into the air can help create clouds!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Streptomyces thermodiastaticus

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

The ocean is an important player affecting the climate of the planet, in many ways. Its effects on clouds influence the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space or trapped as heat, and microbes play a role in this effect. Certain microbes make particles that form the nucleus of water droplets or ice crystals that make up clouds, and other microbes can perform this nucleation themselves.

In this study, an unusual combination of a phytoplankton bloom and strong winds and currents, all in the right places, led to a large number of ice-nucleating bacteria being fed and then brought up from the sea floor and launched into the air, possibly affecting weather patterns in the Arctic.

Journal Paper

Creamean JM, Cross JN, Pickart R, McRaven L, Lin P, Pacini A, Hanlon R, Schmale DG, Ceniceros J, Aydell T, Colombi N, Bolger E, DeMott PJ. 2019. Ice Nucleating Particles Carried From Below a Phytoplankton Bloom to the Arctic Atmosphere. Geophys Res Lett 46:8572–8581.

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