natural history blog

Natural history and parasitical feedings on the world's press

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Dandruff and climate change

From New Scientist

Could dandruff be altering the world’s climate? Along with fur, algae, pollen, fungi, bacteria, viruses and various other “bio-aerosols” wafting around in the atmosphere, it may well be.

A global study has found that tiny fragments of biological detritus are a major component of the atmosphere, controlling the weather and forming a previously hidden microbial metropolis in the skies. Besides their climatic influence, they may even be spreading diseases across the globe.

Scientists have known for some time that aerosols of soot, dust and ash can influence climate by reflecting or absorbing the Sun’s rays and by providing the condensation nuclei necessary for clouds to form. Recent research suggests that aerosols are also responsible for “global dimming”, which may be shading us from the full force of warming from greenhouse gases.

Air samples collected by Jaenicke from over Germany, Siberia, the Amazon rainforest, Greenland and remote oceans found that tiny particles of organic detritus, much of it in the form of biological cells, make up about 25% of the atmospheric aerosol.

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