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Stressed seaweeds cause cloudy skies: Study


London : When under stress, the large brown seaweeds known as kelps are likely to contribute to dark and gloomy cloud formations over coastal regions.

Stressed kelps release a huge quantity of inorganic iodine into the coastal atmosphere, where it is likely to contribute to cloud formation, according to a study.

“When kelps experience stress, for example when they are exposed to intense light or atmospheric ozone during low tides, they very quickly begin to release large quantities of iodide from stores inside the tissues,” said Frithjof Küpper of the Scottish Association for Marine Science and co-author of the study.

“These ions detoxify ozone and other oxidants that could otherwise damage kelp, and, in the process, produce molecular iodine,” said Kupper.

Data thrown by the study provide a biological explanation why large amounts of iodine oxide and volatile halocarbons form in the atmosphere above kelp beds and forests. These chemicals act as condensation nuclei around which clouds may form.

Another co-author, Gordon McFiggans of the University of Manchester said: “The findings are applicable to any coastal areas where there are extensive kelp beds.”

The increase in cloud condensation by kelps could lead to more extensive, longer lasting cloud cover in the coastal region.

Findings of the study have been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.