Brevia

Ubiquity of Biological Ice Nucleators in Snowfall

Science  29 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5867, pp. 1214
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149757

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Abstract

Despite the integral role of ice nucleators (IN) in atmospheric processes leading to precipitation, their sources and distributions have not been well established. We examined IN in snowfall from mid- and high-latitude locations and found that the most active were biological in origin. Of the IN larger than 0.2 micrometer that were active at temperatures warmer than -7�C, 69 to 100% were biological, and a substantial fraction were bacteria. Our results indicate that the biosphere is a source of highly active IN and suggest that these biological particles may affect the precipitation cycle and/or their own precipitation during atmospheric transport.

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