Aerosol bacteria over the Southern Ocean during ACE-1

Mihály Pósfai, Jia Li, James R. Anderson, P R Buseck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Individual bacterial cells occur in many samples that were collected at Cape Grim, Tasmania and during the Lagrangian "B" experiment of the Aerosol Characterization Experiment 1 (ACE-1) campaign that was conducted above the Southern Ocean. They are present in samples from altitudes as high as 5.4 km. Morphologically, almost all bacteria are rod-shaped, about 1 μm long or smaller, have one polar flagellum, and contain inclusions that are rich in P and K. Their morphological features suggest that these bacteria are motile, marine species. It seems likely that the cells became airborne by the same bubble-bursting mechanism that ejects sea-salt aerosol particles into the atmosphere; however, the bacteria and sea-salt particles are typically not aggregated with one another. The estimated number ratio of bacteria and the dominant aerosol species, sea salt, varies in the samples and averages about 1%. The aerosol bacteria seem to represent an important atmospheric reservoir of P and organic compounds; on the other hand, since they are externally mixed with sea salt, they are unlikely to be effective as cloud condensation nuclei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • ACE-1
  • Airborne bacteria
  • Bacteria
  • Individual particles
  • Marine aerosol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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