How Fungi May Create the Amazon’s Clouds
We recently talked about how one spot in the Sahara is responsible for an enormous amount of the Amazon rainforest’s nutrients, carried over the ocean via dusty winds. A new theory states that the gajillions of microscopic fungi in that same jungle could be releasing cloud and mist-inducing potassium.
When carbon compounds in the air are joined by potassium, they can start to stick to each other in microscopic clumps. But those clumps can be big enough to seed water droplets in the air.
Plants and fungi can release potassium into the air under certain conditions. Fungi in particular are veritable fountains of the stuff: when they shoot out their spores, they also spray out a potassium-rich fluid. Biologists working with leaf molds and other fungi in the lab had noticed this, and atmospheric chemists had noticed that there seemed to be a lot of potassium floating above the Amazon in the wet season.
Pretty nifty, eh? The rainforest could seed its own rain.
(Read more at TIME.com)