Real-time detection of airborne fluorescent bioparticles in Antarctica
Authors: Ian Crawford, Martin W. Gallagher, Keith N. Bower, Thomas W. Choularton, Michael J. Flynn, Simon Ruske, Constantino Listowski, Neil Brough, Thomas Lachlan-Cope, Zoë L. Fleming, Virginia E. Foot, Warren R. Stanley
Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics
Publication Date: 01 December, 2017
Department of: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Quantifying the real-time incursion of airborne biological material into sensitive Antarctic ecosystems
Researchers at the University of Manchester along with colleagues from the British Antarctic Survey have demonstrated for the first time the application of new technology to detect and quantify the incursion of airborne biological particles into continental Antarctica. A novel real-time single particle bioaerosol spectrometer was operated at the Halley Base Clean Air Sector laboratory as part of a larger study to investigate climate interactions between aerosols and clouds. The study revealed periods where significantly enhanced concentrations of biological particles (probably mixtures of bacteria and fungal spores on dust particles) occurred. Analysis of air mass trajectories showed that these aerosol plumes are likely to have originated from South America although local coastal sources may also contribute. Future longer-term studies using this technique are now planned that will allow us to more easily monitor and understand the natural biometeorology of the continent. Changes in these natural bio-meteorological patterns can then be used to highlight potential shifts in ecosystem development as a result of response to climate change. These observations will also contribute to new models of aerobiological dispersion and impacts for these remote, sensitive regions of the globe.
- The findings show that significant and rapid enhancements in airborne bioaerosols can occur.
- The study is the first to demonstrate the potential for monitoring natural cycles of airborne biological particles (fungi, bacteria and pollen) in the Antarctic to better understand the net impacts of bio-dispersal there and how these may be altered by climate change.