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Hailstones harbour organic compounds and bacteria, according to new study


Put that down! A new study reveals that hailstones are teeming with bacteria (courtesy: Chelsea McCabe)
Put that down! A new study reveals that hailstones are teeming with bacteria (courtesy: Chelsea McCabe)

Staff writers

January 26, 2013 — The next time you're tempted to pick up hailstones -- don't. A new study reveals they're home to more than 3,000 organic compounds and several species of bacteria.

The study may provide insight into how rain and snow is formed
The study may provide insight into how rain and snow is formed

Bacteria are everywhere -- even in the clouds.

That's according to a new study by Danish researchers from Aarhus University.

In what's being called the first "biogeochemical investigation of a storm cloud", researchers analyzed 42 hailstones that formed in clouds over Slovenia and discovered a presence of bacteria typically found on plants and nearly 3,000 organic compounds that are normally seen in soil.

This could provide new insight into how rain and snow is formed. The findings suggests the bacteria is able to trigger the formation of water droplets and ice crystals.

It's believed that the bacteria is swept into the clouds through an updraft.

The complete study can be found online a PLOS One.

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