Anyone who grew up in a snowy climate probably enjoyed catching a snowflake or two on their tongue in their youth and they may even continue to do so to this day. But new research shows that yellow snow might not be the only snow that you should be wary of. Given our childhood knowledge of the water cycle we should know that water goes through many phases before it comes back down from the sky in its refreshing flaky form, but most of the other stuff (perhaps dirt, chemicals and bacteria) must definitely get removed right? Wrong! It doesn’t seem to be so. A Danish researcher found more than 3,00 chemical compounds in hail collected from a May 2009 hailstorm. He also discovered different species of bacteria that typically grow on plants.
“However, the researchers say the hailstones had very few soil-associated bacteria or chemicals that would usually occur in plants.
Three of the bacterial species discovered were found in most of the hailstones studied, and may represent ‘typical’ cloud inhabitants, the study in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Tina Šantl Temkiv and colleagues from Aarhus University, Denmark found.
According to the authors, the findings may help understand how clouds work
‘When we started these analyses, we were hoping to arrive at a merely descriptive characterization of the bacterial community in an unexplored habitat,’ said said Ulrich Gosewinkel Karlson, leader of the aeromicrobiology research group at Aarhus University.
‘But what we found was indirect evidence for life processes in the atmosphere, such as bacterial selection and growth,’
Some of the bacterial species can seed the tiny ice crystals that lead to rain, suggesting they play a role in causing rain, the researchers believe.”
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