Scientists have uncovered an unexpected link between birds droppings, and climate

Ученые раскрыли неожиданную связь между пометом птиц и климатом Земли

Mountains of bird droppings that the birds leave the Arctic each summer, are playing an unexpected role in slowing global warming, releasing ammonia and some other gases that contribute to the saturation of the atmosphere with droplets of aerosols reflecting the sun’s rays, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

“This new and extremely surprising mechanism, a direct relationship between the ecosphere and atmosphere, emphasizes how interconnected and intertwined with each other many components of Earth’s climate system,” said Jeffrey pierce (Jeff Pierce) from Colorado state University in Fort Collins (United States).

It is believed that aerosols are microscopic droplets of liquid substances and solid particles reflect part of the sunlight and contribute to condensation in clouds, which significantly cools the planet. The majority of climate scientists suggests that a large part of the aerosol formed by the action of ammonia vapors and sulfuric acid in the lower atmosphere.

Pier and his colleagues have uncovered a very unexpected and powerful source of such aerosols, watching the strange sharp spikes in the number of particles of aerosols in the Northern coast of Canada, which occur each summer.

Studying the time of appearance of these aerosols and associated cloud and concentration of drops in different parts of the Arctic, scientists have found hints that they appeared and disappeared in those days, when the in Canada or from Canada flew or flew migratory birds.

The main track of their activity and presence in the Arctic as noticed scientists are a giant pile of sewage and guano that the birds leave on the coastal “bird colonies”. All these droppings, in turn, contain a large amount of organic matter, which is gradually decomposed by bacteria to ammonia and other inorganic nitrogen compounds.

Based on this idea, scientists tested whether this ammonia to explain why the share of aerosols in the atmosphere in the Arctic is rising sharply in the summer. To do this, they developed a computer model of the “bird’s Bazaar”, with which they calculated the amount of ammonia emitted guano birds, and aerosols associated with it.

As shown by these calculations, the effects from these “bird” aerosols is really huge – their droppings emits so much ammonia that they generated microdroplets of liquid will be enough to significantly lower the amount of heat reaching the Earth’s surface. In General, due to the guano birds, the share of aerosols in the Arctic atmosphere increases by 10-50% during the summer, which helps the planet cool itself in the most climate-vulnerable point.

Interestingly, this involves another part of the ecosphere of the Earth – sea microbes that produce the second component of the aerosols, without which the ammonia is not going to work – sulphur compounds, are transformed in the atmosphere into sulphuric acid.

The combination of their actions on the atmosphere of the Arctic, according to scientists, could partially explain why global warming in recent years is not as fast as indicated in the rate of growth of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The beneficial effect of bird colonies on the climate, as I hope, pierce and his colleagues, force the authorities of the Arctic States to take more responsibility for their protection from poachers and disease.