Microbial atmospheric-terrestrial coupling driven by long distance transport and deposition
The observation that microbes are present in the atmosphere dates back to the time of Pasteur. However, for most of the time the atmosphere was only considered a passive path of transmission through which microbial cells were spread from one location to the other. Over the last 25 years it has become more and more evident that microbes participate in central atmospheric process such as the formation of cloud droplets, which ultimately leads to precipitation. Consequently, they may play an important role in Earth water cycle. For logistic reasons most studies on microbes in the atmosphere were carried out in populated areas of Earth. The sampling campaign of the Arctic Center gives us the unique opportunity to probe a pristine environment- Station Nord in Northern Greenland. Air and snow samples will be collected to determine the abundance of microbial life in the atmosphere of the high arctic. The collected data will provide us with unprecedented information about the diversity and abundance of microorganisms and their implications for atmospheric processes including ice and haze formation. The investigation will focus on the metabolic state of the microbes by preserving them in RNA later a solution that freezes the microbial cells in their current metabolic state by preventing RNA from being degraded. Our results will be compared to results of the atmospheric chemistry projected, which is headed by Andreas Massling and our joint effort will allow us to draw a more conclusive picture of the sources of chemical and biological aerosols and most importantly to evaluate their roles in the chemistry and the physics of the atmosphere.
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