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Microbial heat islands found in the desert

ScienceDaily (January 20, 2016)

Microbial heat islands found in the desert

ScienceDaily (January 20, 2016)

Deserts are often thought of as barren places that are left exposed to the extremes of heat and cold and where not much is afoot. But that view is being altered as new research keeps revealing the intricate ecological dynamics of deserts as they change responding to the elements.

New research from Arizona State University now reveals how microbes can significantly warm the desert surface by darkening it, much in the same way that dark clothes will make you feel warmer in sunlight. These desert-darkening organisms make a living basking in the sun and form a mantle that covers the landscape.

Such mantles, called biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, provide important ecosystem services, like fighting erosion and preventing dust storms, or fertilizing the ground with carbon and nitrogen.

The new ASU research shows how the biocrust microorganisms, in an effort to protect themselves from harmful ultraviolet rays in the strong desert sun, produce and lay down so much sunscreen as to noticeably darken the soil, changing the reflectivity of the desert surface as they spread across the land.

Story Source  : Arizona State University

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Page publiée le 17 mars 2016