Small creatures cause gigantic changes! This statement is as true as can ever be when it comes to how clouds are formed from oceanic water.
Researchers from CAICE aka the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment have managed to prove that the phytoplankton eating microbes can have an enormous impact on climate, by becoming airborne and influencing cloud formation.
Phytoplankton are micro algae and they can be found on the ocean`s surface. They have chlorophyll, therefore they need sunlight to survive. It is an important clog in the ocean world machine since it provides food for many fish, snails, jellyfish and whales, but it can also become toxic if it grows uncontrollably.
It has baffled scientists for a long time, how bits of phytoplankton found in the ocean, manage to make their way into clouds and be carried by the breeze for thousands of miles.
But, thanks to a wave machine and 3,400 gallons of natural see water from the Pacific, CAICE scientists managed to get to the root of things and find the mechanism that puts this action into practice.
The answer to the question, is in the tiny microscopic beings that feed on the decaying phytoplankton and then release various particles that they have no need for, particles like lipids, gas and sugar.
These particles linger at the ocean surface, forming a bubble, until they are hit by a wave strong enough to break the bubble and get them into the air, where they eventually become part of a cloud.
That means that whenever your breathing in the salty smell of sea water or when you feel the sea breeze on your suntanned skin, you are actually surrounded by millions of tiny phytoplankton eating microbes and by the by-products they leave behind.
We all know how important clouds are when it comes to predicting weather patterns and this findings are particularly important for meteorologists working to provide better forecasts. More exactly, they can use the contents found in the air and clouds to predict how weather will be, seeing that perhaps when these tiny air particles get to be a part of a cloud, the next day is sure to be rainy.
The results of how the interaction between microbes and phytoplankton can lead to the formation of clouds, is a proof of the fact that water and microscopic creatures living on its surface are an intricate part in what influences the weather on Earth.
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