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Detritus of life abounds in the atmosphere
New Scientist ^ | 3/31/05 | Fred Pearce

Posted on 03/31/2005 2:36:28 PM PST by LibWhacker

Could dandruff be altering the world’s climate? Along with fur, algae, pollen, fungi, bacteria, viruses and various other “bio-aerosols” wafting around in the atmosphere, it may well be.

A global study has found that tiny fragments of biological detritus are a major component of the atmosphere, controlling the weather and forming a previously hidden microbial metropolis in the skies. Besides their climatic influence, they may even be spreading diseases across the globe.

Scientists have known for some time that aerosols of soot, dust and ash can influence climate by reflecting or absorbing the Sun’s rays and by providing the condensation nuclei necessary for clouds to form. Recent research suggests that aerosols are also responsible for “global dimming”, which may be shading us from the full force of warming from greenhouse gases.

But new findings from Ruprecht Jaenicke, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Mainz, Germany, show that a large fraction of the aerosols in the atmosphere are biological in origin.

Air samples collected by Jaenicke from over Germany, Siberia, the Amazon rainforest, Greenland and remote oceans found that tiny particles of organic detritus, much of it in the form of biological cells, make up about 25% of the atmospheric aerosol.

Jaenicke estimates that around a billion tonnes of bio-aerosols enter the atmosphere every year from fields and forests, animal pastures and cities. That is twenty times previous estimates and similar in scale to mineral dust. Rainmakers

Many of the tiny organic particles have shapes and structures that help form clouds and create rain. Particles made up of biological cells in particular are good at absorbing moisture in the air to form cloud condensation nuclei, says Jaenicke.

But the impact of bio-aerosols on global temperatures could be harder to predict, says Tim Lenton, an Earth systems researcher at the University of East Anglia in the UK. By dispersing solar radiation and shading the planet’s surface, “dry bio-aerosols will have a cooling effect on climate. But wet bio-aerosols could warm the Earth’s surface, especially at night, by contributing to fog and low-level cloud.”

Some researchers believe that certain bacteria may have evolved to spend time in the air and create clouds and rain, as a Darwinian ploy. “Organisms are probably using winds and rain created by clouds as an effective means of dispersing themselves or their spores,” says Lenton.

More worryingly, some researchers spoken to by New Scientist argue that Jaenicke’s findings raise a new health threat. Gene Shinn, a marine biologist with the US Geological Survey in St Petersburg, Florida, US, says: “Jaenicke’s list of bio-aerosols includes proteins that are well-known allergens, especially to people with asthma.”

Shinn believes that dust storms spreading across the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara desert contain bacteria and proteins that have caused epidemics of coral disease in Caribbean reefs and widespread asthma on some islands.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: algae; amazon; atmosphere; bacteria; bioaerosols; climate; cloudformation; dandruff; desertification; detritus; environment; fungi; fur; godsgravesglyphs; life; mineraldust; pollen; refoliation; sahara; viruses; weather; xplanets
It'd be cool if astronomers could identify the Frauenhofer lines for dandruff. Be fun to look for that, in addition to the usual suspects, like methane, when looking for life on other planets.
1 posted on 03/31/2005 2:36:29 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Could ...'Herpes'... be altering the world?s climate? Along with fur, algae, etc.........


2 posted on 03/31/2005 2:40:48 PM PST by maestro
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To: maestro

EEEK! Now that's scary.


3 posted on 03/31/2005 2:46:40 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
Head & Shoulders© rejoices..
4 posted on 03/31/2005 2:58:05 PM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: AntiGuv

Along with DustBuster and DirtDevil.


5 posted on 03/31/2005 3:14:43 PM PST by octobersky
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To: LibWhacker

I wonder if the so-called conclusive global warming "models" take this effect into account. Maybe it's not cars that are destroying the ozone - it's just too many people scratching their heads. Time to add Head & Shoulders to UN giveaways.


6 posted on 03/31/2005 4:31:23 PM PST by naturalized (Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.)
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...
Note: this topic was posted March 31, 2005. Thanks LibWhacker.
A global study has found that tiny fragments of biological detritus are a major component of the atmosphere, controlling the weather and forming a previously hidden microbial metropolis in the skies. Besides their climatic influence, they may even be spreading diseases across the globe... Recent research suggests that aerosols are also responsible for "global dimming"

7 posted on 12/25/2013 10:53:20 AM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: KevinDavis; annie laurie; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Mmogamer; ...
Note: this topic was posted March 31, 2005. Thanks LibWhacker.
A global study has found that tiny fragments of biological detritus are a major component of the atmosphere, controlling the weather and forming a previously hidden microbial metropolis in the skies. Besides their climatic influence, they may even be spreading diseases across the globe... Recent research suggests that aerosols are also responsible for "global dimming"
 
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8 posted on 12/25/2013 10:54:54 AM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: LibWhacker; SunkenCiv
...Recent research suggests that aerosols are also responsible for “global dimming”, which may be shading us from the full force of warming from greenhouse gases.

Here we go, it's the beginning of the excuses we can expect to hear as to why global warming isn't happening. Earth has dandruff.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

9 posted on 12/25/2013 1:12:13 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum)
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