Researchers from the United States have studied how microbes in the ocean can influence climate change. It turned out that they react to the events that occur around them and change the composition of gases or aerosols to balance the weather.
Scientists from the American Chemical Society created ocean conditions in a laboratory and found that air pollution changes the composition of the gases that microbes release into the ocean. Thus, they are trying to influence the climatic conditions around.
Through natural biological processes, ocean microbes, including bacteria, phytoplankton, and viruses, produce compounds that enter the atmosphere as gases or aerosols (tiny droplets of water or particles in the air). Some of these particles can scatter clouds, absorb or reflect sunlight, and otherwise affect atmospheric conditions and weather.
Surprisingly, we don’t know more about the role of ocean microbes in climate change. They can affect the composition of the atmosphere, cloud formation, and weather. Humans can change these natural processes in two ways: by changing the structure of the microbial community and by releasing air pollutants that react with microbial compounds.
Scientists have wondered how humans can affect this thermostat. But first, they needed to know how ocean microbes affect the climate without human intervention. To find out, the researchers built a 32-meter long canal and filled it with water. There, they triggered a phytoplankton bloom – an overgrowth of microscopic algae that occurs naturally in the oceans under certain conditions.
Scientists tracked gases and aerosols in the air above the water, measuring parameters such as size, composition, shape, enzymatic activity, and pH of the aerosol. They also studied how natural changes in the microbial community affect the atmosphere around them.
The addition of a small amount of an atmospheric oxidant caused an immediate change in the composition and cloud-forming ability of marine aerosols. The oxidizer reacted with microbes in the air, converting them into compounds that altered the primary aerosol of sea spray and formed new types of particles, the scientists said.