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Measurements and modeling of surface–atmosphere exchange of microorganisms in Mediterranean grassland

Abstract : Microbial aerosols (mainly composed by bacterial and fungal cells), may constitute up to 74 % of the total aerosol volume. These biological aerosols are relevant not only from the point of view of the dispersion of pathogenic species, but also due to the potential geochemical implications. Some bacteria and fungi may, in fact, serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, potentially affecting cloud formation and precipitation and are active at higher temperatures compared to their, much more intensively studied, inorganic counterparts. Simulations of the impact of microbial aerosols on climate are still hindered by the lack of information regarding their emissions from ground sources. This work tackles this knowledge gap by (i) applying a rigorous micrometeorological approach to the estimation of microbial net fluxes above a Mediterranean grassland and (ii) developing a deterministic model to estimate these emissions on the basis of a few easily recovered meteorological parameters (the PLAnET model). The grassland itself is characterized by an abundance of positive net microbial fluxes and the model proves to be a promising tool capable of capturing the day-to-day variability in microbial fluxes with a relatively small bias and sufficient accuracy. PLAnET is still in its infancy and will benefit from future campaigns extending the available training dataset as well as the inclusion of ever more complex and critical phenomena affecting the release of microbial aerosol (such as rainfall). The model itself is also adaptable as an emission module for dispersion and chemical transport models, allowing to further explore the impact of microbial aerosols on the atmosphere and climate.
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Federico Carotenuto, Teodoro Georgiadis, Beniamino Gioli, Christel Leyronas, Cindy E. Morris, et al.. Measurements and modeling of surface–atmosphere exchange of microorganisms in Mediterranean grassland. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, European Geosciences Union, 2017, 17, pp.14919-14936. ⟨10.5194/acp-2017-527⟩. ⟨hal-01604418⟩

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