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Fungal spores and cloud formation in the Amazon…

September 2, 2012

(Phys.org)—An international team of researchers looking to understand the way nature originally caused cloud formation and subsequent rain to fall, have undertaken a study in the Amazon River basin, where scientists say, the air is much closer to its natural state than in other areas due to the constant influx of fresh air from over the ocean and nearly constant rainfall. There they have found, as they describe in their paper published in the journal Science, that fungi spores covered with organic gel, attract moisture leading to cloud formation and rain, which results in a form of feedback loop as the water evaporates.

For clouds to form and rain to fall, water has to have something in the air to cling to, in most cases, that something is an aerosol, which is any sort of solid matter that is light and small enough to drift about in the air. To find out which sort of aerosols might be present in the Amazon, the researchers climbed up a man-made tower that rose 262 feet into the air and collected air samples. Upon inspection, they found three major nano-sized aerosols, each with high levels of potassium and covered in an organic gel, the result of organic gas condensation. The team narrowed down the list of possible sources for the salty potassium cores, to fungi spores that drift up from the forest floor. They ruled out salt from the ocean as a source due to differences in structure and distance from the sea. The gel coating allows water to very easily cling to the aerosols leading to cloud formation and then of course rain. Because the spores come from the forest itself, the findings suggest that the Amazon River ecosystem is one giant feedback loop.

Read more at Phys.org

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2012 10:08:04 am

    A self perpetuating cycle 🙂

  2. September 2, 2012 10:08:44 am

    Reblogged this on Thinkings or thoughts? and commented:
    fofflo link sometime

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