Ice nucleation by viruses and their potential for cloud glaciation.

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From: Biogeosciences(Vol. 18, Issue 14)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 265 words

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Abstract :

In order to effectively predict the formation of ice in clouds we need to know which subsets of aerosol particles are effective at nucleating ice, how they are distributed and where they are from. A large proportion of ice-nucleating particles (INPs) in many locations are likely of biological origin, and some INPs are extremely small, being just tens of nanometres in size. The identity and sources of such INPs are not well characterized. Here, we show that several different types of virus particles can nucleate ice, with up to about 1 in 20 million virus particles able to nucleate ice at -20 .sup." C. In terms of the impact on cloud glaciation, the ice-nucleating ability (the fraction which are ice nucleation active as a function of temperature) taken together with typical virus particle concentrations in the atmosphere leads to the conclusion that virus particles make a minor contribution to the atmospheric ice-nucleating particle population in the terrestrial-influenced atmosphere. However, they cannot be ruled out as being important in the remote marine atmosphere. It is striking that virus particles have an ice-nucleating activity, and further work should be done to explore other types of viruses for both their ice-nucleating potential and to understand the mechanism by which viruses nucleate ice.

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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A669896653