Science News

The Weather's Caught a Cold - Microbes Cause Rain !

Sun, 4th Aug 2002

Part of the show How Acupuncture Works

Scientists at the University of East London are testing the theory that bacteria and algae living in clouds could be responsible for downpours. The researchers are sending a plane armed with a cyclonic cloud catcher, which is a bit like a giant vacuum cleaner, to collect samples of clouds over Britain. Dr. Bruce Moffet, who is leading the research, believes that the bugs living in the clouds might possess special ways to trigger cloud formation and rainfall to enable them to reproduce and spread. By studying the behaviour of the colonies of bugs living in the clouds the scientists hope to harness their potential to make rain fall in drought-sticken areas, or find specialised organisms that can screen out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (more details at


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