Most of things microscopic are ignored by our eyes that are drawn to the big picture. The devil is in the details, they say, but sometimes we can see light in the details and this is how the tiny microbes encompassing the entire universe of phytoplankton surprise us.
A recent research published Friday in the journal Science Advances, outlines the extremely large part microbes in the Southern Ocean play in cloud formation. They do wonders in the sky, as the armies of microbes can be swept out of their aquatic shelters by gusts of wind. Once airborne, they encourage water condensation and make the clouds brighter by helping reflect additional sunlight.
The phytoplankton is for most of us a mystery. The underwater universe hides precious treasures that are far from the human eye but don’t hesitate to reveal themselves in a complexity of shapes, sizes and beams of light.
Phytoplankton can be defined as a group of photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that live in the upper sunlit layer of all oceans and bodies of fresh water. They have the amazing property of gathering together to form bunches of shiny, diamond clouds that look fascinatingly colorful and bright in the sky. Actually, the microbes that make up for the entire phytoplankton are responsible for no less than half of the cloud droplets covering the Southern Ocean during summer months.
Phytoplankton organisms depend on light to germinate and populate the sea with their blobs. During summer months, when water temperature rises, huge phytoplankton blooms effect clouds formation.
“The clouds over the Southern Ocean reflect significantly more sunlight in the summertime than they would without these huge plankton blooms,” Daniel McCoy declared, co-leader author and UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences.
The dazzling bright clouds which reflect the light of microorganisms deep inside the ocean produce huge amounts of energy. The augmented brilliance, known as a by-product of the tiny sea, reflects 4 watts of solar energy per square meter. This is a lot of power coming from some tiny creatures. Phytoplankton in the sky with diamonds shows us how size does not matter, but rather the strength coming from armies of living creatures that gather together to become stronger survivors.
The data revealing these interesting findings was recording with the use of an imaging spectroradiometer, an instrument used by NASA more than 10 years ago, to measure the size of cloud droplets for all the Earth’s skies.
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