A study revealed that melting Antarctic ice favors cloud formation

Barcelona (Spain), May 13th (EFE). The melting occurring in the Antarctic seas supports the formation of clouds, which could help reduce the solar radiation the region receives, according to research by the Antarctic Science Institute. Sea (ICM-CSIC) for Barcelona, ​​Spain.

The study was participated in by the University of Birmingham (UK) and published in the journal Natural Earth Sciences, Explains that in the atmosphere of Antarctica, particles are composed of gases released by microorganisms that live in sea ice and the surrounding waters, and these particles generate aerosols in the atmosphere that prefer cloud formation in the summer.


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According to the researchers, this phenomenon could have important consequences for the climate, as clouds influence the regulation of the planet’s temperature because they reflect and filter the solar radiation, and without them the climate would be much warmer.

However, very little is currently known about how they formed, which limits the accuracy of climate projections.

Clouds are known to require the presence of small particles in the atmosphere that allow water to condense and generate droplets.


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Many of these aerosols come from human activity, but in remote areas of the planet most of them arise from natural processes such as the wind-induced rise of sea salt and gases of biological origin in the ocean.

The research used data collected during the PI-ICE 2019 Antarctic campaign, led by ICM researcher Manuel Dall’Osto.

In this campaign that lasted more than three months, the researchers analyzed airborne particles in the area around the Antarctic Peninsula and noticed that when air masses come from the seafront region, the episodes of aerosol formation are more. frequent.

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According to this work, these air masses contain high concentrations of sulfuric acid and amines, which are compounds of biological origin that interact with each other to transform themselves from gases to molecules.

Although the role of sulfuric acid in the formation of polar aerosols was already known, this is the first study that demonstrates the main role of amines, which are nitrogen-containing organic compounds that result from the decomposition of organic matter in microorganisms living in the sea. ice.

“We already knew the importance of organic nitrogen in the formation of aerosols and clouds in temperate terrestrial environments, but we have now been able to demonstrate the importance of this process in Antarctica,” says Dal Osto, who believes that “this discovery will impose a review of models of the impact of marine life on Climate regulation. “

“On a previous expedition in 2015, we already observed the emission of amines through sea ice, but so far we have not shown that these materials allow the formation of new aerosols in an area so far far from any human activity and in this clean atmosphere.” ICM Raphael Simo.

Dall’Osto and Simó are preparing for a new science expedition for 2023 that will attempt to delve into the complex mechanism of climate that results from interactions between ocean, ice, life and the atmosphere.

According to the researchers, Antarctica is currently experiencing a drastic climate change that is difficult to predict, among other reasons, because the consequences that changes in the ecosystem will have on the formation of aerosols and clouds are unknown.

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“Current climate models underestimate the abundance of clouds over the Southern Ocean, and thus overestimate the arrival of solar radiation in those cold waters. For this reason, publishing studies like this is key to improving future projections,” they concluded.

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