Physics of Biology


Biological Processes Within Atmospheric Aerosols

Authors: Colin Bruce Jack

A surprisingly high fraction of sunlight is absorbed during transit of the Earth’s lower atmosphere. One third to one half of this absorption may be unexplained, referred to as the ‘atmospheric absorption anomaly’ or ‘cloud absorption paradox’. This quantity is comparable to the total amount of sunlight falling on known photosynthesising organisms.
This paper sets out the hypothesis that the anomalous absorption is a consequence of biological activity within atmospheric aerosol droplets. Bacterial spores and the recently discovered vesicles emitted in huge numbers by marine bacteria are possible candidates for growth and maybe even reproduction within such droplets. Ways in which, within a droplet, a microorganism can harvest energy while avoiding any significant UV dose are described.
While at present hypothetical, the processes described could resolve several current anomalies, including a major puzzle concerning the origin of life. Practical implications could be relevant to anthropogenic global warming, attempted geoengineering, and photosynthetic energy harvesting. The hypothesis could be tested at low cost.

Comments: 10 Pages.

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Submission history

[v1] 2014-02-27 11:34:36

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