Ubiquity of biological ice nucleators in snowfall
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Despite the integral role of ice nucleators (IN) in atmospheric processes leading to precipitation, their sources and distributions have not been well established. We examined IN in snowfall from mid- and high-latitude locations and found that the most active were biological in origin. Of the IN larger than 0.2 micrometer that were active at temperatures warmer than -7°C, 69 to 100% were biological, and a substantial fraction were bacteria. Our results indicate that the biosphere is a source of highly active IN and suggest that these biological particles may affect the precipitation cycle and/or their own precipitation during atmospheric transport.
Christner BC, Morris CE, Foreman CM, Cai R, Sands DC, "Ubiquity of biological ice nucleators in snowfall," Science 2008 319(5867):1214