Storm Clouds Crawling With Bacteria

The storm clouds in Earth’s atmosphere are filled with microbial life, according to a new study.

Bacteria living in storm clouds could seed the ice crystals that form rain, new research suggests

The research, published today (Jan. 23) in the journal PLoS One, revealed that hailstones drawn from storm clouds harbor several species of bacteria that tend to reside on plants, as well as thousands of organic compounds normally found in soil. Some of the bacterial species can seed the tiny ice crystals that lead to rain, suggesting they play a role in causing rain.

“Those storm clouds are quite violent phenomena,” said study co-author Tina Santl Temkiv, an environmental chemist at Aarhus University in Denmark. “They are sucking huge amounts of air from under the clouds, and that’s how the bacteria probably got into the cloud.”

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