A new study is suggesting that the microscopic phytoplankton is playing a key role in brightening up the sky on cloudy days.
The next time you see bright clouds – thank the marine plankton in oceans in the southern hemisphere. New research has found that there is a connection between the two, and before a world of pollution, there was something significant happening here with plankton, which thrive in the ocean. These organisms give off gases. These gases aren’t found in the ocean, which means that the gases help to spur brighter clouds, by giving the clouds the fuel to take off and become significantly brighter than they were before that.
Daniel McCoy, who was the lead co-author of the study, pointed out that the team noted, “The clouds over the Southern Ocean reflect significantly more sunlight in the summertime than they would without these huge plankton blooms.” This is significant because not a lot is currently known about clouds and how they form, despite the advancements in the world of meteorology.
The team also pointed out that “life in the oceans has a big effect on the clouds,” which is something that scientists have contested for years but have had little scientific data backing the claims up. Now, there is research that exists to really show off just how important these little organisms are in the grand scheme of ocean life – and life above water as well.
Susannah Burrows, who was a member of the team pointed out that, “The dimethyl sulfide produced by the phytoplankton gets transported up into higher levels of the atmosphere and then gets chemically transformed and produces aerosols further downwind, and that tends to happen more in the northern part of the domain we studied.” Understanding the details about cloud formation is vitally important to understanding the natural world as we know it.
This is also vitally important in the discussion about climate change. While there are some things that we are impacting directly, this is something that scientists have to really start taking into account, due to the fact that there is something major to be said for the amount of change that we are creating in the atmosphere. Especially should our habits start impacting the population of marine plankton in the world. These little organisms are crucial to the survival of Earth as a whole, so it’s important to note that there are things to be done here, to not only fix what we’ve done but also learn more in the process.
Marine life plays a vital role in creating clouds, precipitation, and so much more in our atmosphere and the natural world. There will be long-term impacts if we do not turn around and start working to ensure that things like this aren’t impacted. Clouds may not mean much to the average person, aside from dictating how warm it will be – but there is something significant to be said for creating weather – and that’s exactly what they do.