Pollen grains are genetic material which is an important component of pollination.
It is found that it can also help drive rain that fertilizes the grains.
Allison Steiner, an associate professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences at U-M said, “The grains were thought to be too large to be important in the climate system, too large to form clouds or interact with radiation, and also the large particles don’t last in the atmosphere. They tend to settle out relatively quickly.”
For the study researchers have first analyzed how pollen grain causes allergies around 20 percent US residents.
After they have analyzed they found that pollen grains can break into tiny pieces and cause allergic response, and when they get wet, they rupture easily in a matter of few seconds or minutes and create further small particles and these small particles acts as collectors for water or nuclei for condensation of clouds.
To confirm this theory, researchers have obtained pollen grains from pine, oak, pecan and birch trees and then soaked the pollen grains in pure water for one hour. To spray the wet pollen particles they have used an atomizer, and then they send it into a cloud chamber, and found that different particle sizes of pollen grains started to form clouds by pulling in moisture.
Sarah Brooks a researcher said, “Scientists are just beginning to identify the types of biological aerosols which are important for cloud formation. Our results identify pollen as a major contributor to cloud formation.”
Researchers have scanned pollen grain under electron microscope and found that the grains are ruptured into small particles, which are capable of causing cloud formation.
Steiner said, “What happens in clouds is one of the big uncertainties in climate models right now, one of the things we’re trying to understand is how do natural aerosols influence cloud cover and precipitation under present day and future climate.”
Brooks said, “Specifically, our results suggest that increased pollen could lead to the formation of thicker clouds and longer cloud lifetimes.”
Steiner said, “It’s possible that when trees emit pollen, that makes clouds, which in turn makes rain and that feeds back into the trees and can influence the whole growth cycle of the plant.”