The Kid Should See This

Life in the Clouds: Exploring Earth’s high-flying ecosystems

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Microbial communities in the deep biosphere—subaqueous sediments, hydrothermal vents, and subsurface formations like mines and caves—have been found as deep as three miles (4.8 kilometers) below the Earth’s surface.

Looking up, microbes have been found as high as 20 miles (32 kilometers) into the atmosphere, “capable of riding air currents around the globe.” Is that how far the Earth’s biosphere goes? And why should we care about “these tiny life forms miles above our heads?”

Learn about the airborne microbes in our atmosphere with Life in the Clouds, a 2016 bioGraphic video by Annette Heist, Ruth Lichtman, and Flora Lichtman.

life in the clouds

“At the outermost edge is the stratosphere, an extreme place to live by any stretch. Cold and dry, with almost no shield from radiation, the stratosphere is not unlike the surface of Mars, scientists say—and yet some organisms are able to withstand its harsh conditions.

“A bit closer to Earth’s surface is the troposphere, where some high-flying microbes find respite in the clouds—oases in an aerial desert… New research is beginning to reveal that some of these tropospheric residents influence the weather patterns we experience far below.”

ice nucleation
Life in the Clouds is just one of bioGraphic’s Invisible Nature series. Watch a few more on TKSST:
• Code of the Treehopper
• Return of the Wood Frog
• The (Super Tiny) Glowing Squid

Plus: Where does Space begin?

And Look Up! The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See.


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