Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 10829-10881, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Bacteria in the global atmosphere – Part 2: Modelling of emissions and transport between different ecosystems
S. M. Burrows, T. Butler, P. Jöckel, H. Tost, A. Kerkweg, U. Pöschl, and M. G. Lawrence
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Abstract. Bacteria are constantly being transported through the atmosphere, which may have implications for human health, agriculture, cloud formation, and the dispersal of bacterial species. We simulated the global transport of bacterial cells, represented as 1μm diameter spherical solid particle tracers, in a chemistry-climate model. We investigated the factors influencing residence time and distribution of the particles, including emission region, CCN activity and removal by ice-phase precipitation. The global distribution depends strongly on the assumptions made about uptake into cloud droplets and ice. The transport is also affected, to a lesser extent, by the emission region and by season. We examine the potential for exchange of bacteria between ecosystems and obtain rough estimates of the flux from each ecosystem by using an optimal estimation technique, together with a new compilation of available observations described in a companion paper. Globally, we estimate the total emissions of bacteria to the atmosphere to be 1400 Gg per year with an upper bound of 4600 Gg per year, originating mainly from grasslands, shrubs and crops. In order to improve understanding of this topic, more measurements of the bacterial content of the air will be necessary. Future measurements in wetlands, sandy deserts, tundra, remote glacial and coastal regions and over oceans will be of particular interest.

Citation: Burrows, S. M., Butler, T., Jöckel, P., Tost, H., Kerkweg, A., Pöschl, U., and Lawrence, M. G.: Bacteria in the global atmosphere – Part 2: Modelling of emissions and transport between different ecosystems, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 10829-10881, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-10829-2009, 2009.
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