Bacteria often leave their hosts feeling under the weather. And even when the hosts are high-altitude parcels of air, microbes can be a source of inclement conditions, a Montana research team finds. Cloudborne bacteria might even pose climate threats by boosting the production of a greenhouse gas, another team proposes.
Both groups reported their findings May 24 at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in New Orleans.
These data add to a growing body of evidence that biological organisms are affecting clouds, notes Anthony Prenni of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, an atmospheric scientist who did not participate in the new studies. Right now, he cautions, “We still don’t know on a global scale how important these processes are.” But research into microbial impacts on weather and climate is really heating up, he adds, so “within a few years, I think we’re going to have a much better handle on it.”
Alexander Michaud’s new research was triggered by a June storm that pummeled Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman last year with golf ball–sized and larger hailstones. The microbial ecologist normally studies subglacial aquatic environments in Antarctica. But after saving 27 of the hailstones, he says, “I suddenly realized, no one had really ever thought about studying hailstones — in a layered sense — for biology.”
So his team dissected the icy balls, along with hundreds of smaller ones collected during a July hail storm south of campus. Michaud now reports finding germs throughout, with the highest concentrations by far — some 1,000 cells per milliliter of meltwater — in the hailstones’ cores.
Since at least the 1980s, scientists have argued that some share of clouds, and their precipitation, likely traces to microbes. Their reasoning: Strong winds can loft germs many kilometers into the sky. And since the 1970s, agricultural scientists have recognized that certain compounds made by microbes serve as efficient water magnets around which ice crystals can form at relatively high temperatures (occasionally leading to frost devastation of crops).
In 2008, Brent Christner of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his colleagues reported isolating ice-nucleating bacteria from rain and snow. A year later, Prenni’s group found microbes associated with at least a third of the cloud ice crystals they sampled at an altitude of 8 kilometers.
“But finding ice-nucleating bacteria in snow or hail is very different from saying they were responsible for the ice,” says Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I say that,” he admits, “even though as a microbiologist, I’d love to believe that bacteria control weather.”
Pure water molecules won’t freeze in air at temperatures above about –40° Celsius, Christner notes. Add tiny motes of mineral dust or clay, and water droplets may coalesce around them — or nucleate — at perhaps –15°. But certain bacteria can catalyze ice nucleation at even –2°, he reported at the meeting in New Orleans.
Through chemical techniques, Michaud’s group determined that the ice nucleation in their hail occurred around –11.5° for the June hailstones and at roughly –8.5° for the July stones.
Michaud’s data on the role of microbes in precipitation “is pretty strong evidence,” Prenni says.
Also at the meeting, Pierre Amato of Clermont University in Clermont-Ferrand, France, reported biological activity in materials sampled from a cloud at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The air hosted many organic pollutants, including formaldehyde, acetate and oxalate. Sunlight can break these down to carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, something Amato’s group confirmed in the lab. But sunlight didn’t fully degrade some organics unless microbes were also present.
Moreover, certain cloudborne bacteria — the French team identified at least 17 types — degraded organic pollutants to carbon dioxide at least as efficiently as the sun did. Amato’s team reported these findings online February 9 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.
This microbial transformation of pollutants to carbon dioxide occurs even in darkness. Amato has calculated the total nighttime microbial production of carbon dioxide in clouds and pegs it “on the order of 1 million tons per year.” Though not a huge sum (equal to the carbon dioxide from perhaps 180,000 cars per year), he cautions that this amount could increase based on airborne pollutant levels, temperatures and microbial populations.
The true successors of Mussolini, Lenin and Pol Pot leave their predecessors in the shade: "Climate change demands we re-engineer the world economy now"
As an alarm call, the surge in emissions revealed by the International Energy Association is deafening. After the banking crisis of 2008, the cooling of the global economy had appeared to have given our wheezing, warming world pause for breath.
As GDP went into reverse, so did energy use and the pumping of planet-heating gases into the atmosphere. Attempts to agree global action went into reverse at the same time, despite the 120 heads of state who burned the midnight oil in Copenhagen in 2009.
But while the global economy has roared back to life, the UN's negotiations remain on life support, and with little hope of recovery.
Two truths emerge from this mismatch. First, the link between economic growth and carbon dioxide must be broken. The world's economy runs on energy, and while most of that power continues to comes from coal, oil and gas, global GDP and carbon emissions will be bound together in lockstep. The latest data show a near perfect correlation, and that shows how little impact, in a worldwide context, renewable and nuclear power is making.
Second, the rich industrialised world and the poor developing world must align their hopes and fears: they inhabit the same planet. All nations are united in understanding that unchecked climate change poses a grave threat in every part of the world.
Citizens in London, New York and Tokyo have grown rich from a century or more of fossil-fuelled industrialisation. They have the most wealth to lose and are, with notable exceptions, the keenest to cut carbon fast. But for those in Delhi, Rio and Beijing, where economic growth surges onwards, the improvement of living standards, from electricity to education, is even more pressing than reducing emissions.
Blah, blah, blah
Cut and pasted - IPCC errors
From the cut and paste section in today's Australian newspaper...
A sturdy declaration on p19 of the climate commission magnum opus, The Critical Decade: "The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]'s Fourth Assessment Report has been intensively and exhaustively scrutinised and is virtually error-free."
ABC News Watch blog on Thursday: "HERE are links to the IPCC's own list of errors in the AR4 report, it runs to about 3200 words. When we cut and pasted them all into MSword we ended up with 31 pages."
For more errors and lies from the Climate commission... see Lies of the climate commission PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5
None of these reported by Australia's state owned media corporation.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
Pesky food reality
At least since Malthus through Paul Ehrlich, doomsters have been predicting mass starvation. They never learn
A new study published in the Science magazine says that global warming has contributed to a drop in the yield of crops in Russia, China and India:
Crop yields hit by global warming
Global warming is hurting world food production, says new study
A drop in the yield of some crops around the world was not caused by changes in rainfall but was because higher temperatures can cause dehydration, prevent pollination and lead to slowed photosynthesis, the new study says. Wheat and corn yields were down in Russia, China and India, due in part to rising temperatures, according to the study published in the journal Science. The new research adds to other studies which have tried to distinguish between climate change and natural variations in weather and other factors.
And here is the the latest news just in from India:
India faces problem of plentiful food
There is a bumper wheat and rice crop. In Andhra Pradesh, India's rice bowl, production is up 30%. Millers are offering only Rs 8 for a kilo of paddy though the MSP is Rs 10.30. Angry farmers last week threw paddy into the Krishna river. The state government has borrowed Rs 550 crore from RBI for procurement. The FCI can do little. After buying 50 million tonne wheat and rice this season, added to 44 million tonnes left from last year, it is exhausted.
The oilseed crop is 20% larger. Import of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia is down for the sixth straight month till April, a three-year low. Sugar output is up 28%. Even exports can't prod the bulls into action.
Production of pulses rose by a fifth to cross 17 million tonne. The Planning Commission pegs this year's demand at 19 million tonne. As the gap narrows, premiums are evaporating.
Cotton prices hit a 140-year high in March on the back of the world market and then crashed by Rs 20,000 per candy within two months. Textile mills can't absorb the record harvest. In crop after crop, output is higher. In West Bengal, farmers have put 60% of their potato in cold storage, hoping prices will improve. And a 15% jump in onion harvest has pushed wholesale prices in Maharashtra back to Rs 5 per kilo. In January, we paid Rs 70.
Surely Dr. Wolfram Schlenker and the other members of New York´s Columbia University´s research team must be pleased to learn, that global warming evidently has stopped, at least in India - or alternatively it has contributed to a record harvest!
SOURCE. (See the original for links)
Is this a new extreme of climatological overconfidence? Just 15 years of data is enough to generate long term predictions?
The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research plans to study the waves around New Zealand, which it says are some of the biggest and wildest on the planet.
NIWA says extensive modelling will help provide a picture of how damaging waves and storm surges will be in future. It wants to establish how the size of the waves is changing, so councils know the areas where it is unwise to build.
The longest set of records goes back only 15 years, so the agency will do some modelling for the years before that.
NIWA says it will simulate wave development up to the end of the century and will take climate change into account.
Australia: Global cooling hits Sydney
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicts up to 20mm of rain will fall in Sydney today, with warnings of dangerous surf conditions. The State Emergency Service has warned of storms and flash flooding on the northern beaches today.
There is also a strong wind warning for waters between Port Macquarie and Port Hacking, in Sydney's south, with a swell of up to three metres predicted. Since 9am yesterday, 30.6mm fell at Observatory Hill and 15.4mm at Sydney Airport.....
Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said it could be the coldest May in Sydney in more than 40 years. "A cloudy and wet end to the month will ensure this will be Sydney's coldest May since 1970," Mr Dutschke said.
According to Weatherzone, minimum overnight temperatures averaged less than 10.8 degrees, nearly 1 degree below the long-term average. The temperature dropped below 10 degrees on 11 nights, when usually there are only eight nights so cold in May.
A cold front dropped snow in Orange on May 12, a rare event so early in the year, Mr Dutschke said.
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