Biodegradation by bacteria in clouds: an underestimated sink for some organics in the atmospheric multiphase system.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 4)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 364 words

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Abstract :

Water-soluble organic compounds represent a significant fraction of total atmospheric carbon. The main oxidants towards them in the gas and aqueous phases are OH and NO.sub.3 radicals. In addition to chemical solutes, a great variety of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi) have been identified in cloud water. Previous lab studies suggested that for some organics, biodegradation by bacteria in water is comparable to their loss by chemical processes. We perform model sensitivity studies over large ranges of biological and chemical process parameters using a box model with a detailed atmospheric multiphase chemical mechanism and biodegradation processes to explore the importance of biodegradation of organics in the aqueous phase. Accounting for the fact that only a small number fraction of cloud droplets (â¼0.0001-0.001) contains active bacterial cells, we consider only a few bacteria-containing droplets in the model cloud. We demonstrate that biodegradation might be most efficient for water-soluble organic gases with intermediate solubility (â¼104[less than or equal to]KH(eff) [M atm.sup.-1 ] [less than or equal to]10.sup.6, e.g., formic and acetic acids). This can be explained by the transport limitation due to evaporation of organics from bacteria-free droplets to the gas phase, followed by the dissolution into bacteria-containing droplets. For cloud condensation nuclei (CCN)-derived compounds, such as dicarboxylic acids, the upper limit of organic loss by biodegradation can be approximated by the amount of organics dissolved in the bacteria-containing droplets (

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A653570038