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The air is teeming with microbes, and scientists are finally starting to understand how they influence everything from meteorology to epidemiology.
Many researchers still view the atmosphere solely as a conduit for the transportation of microbes by wind, but not a habitat in and of itself. Green, however, said she believes that the atmosphere has everything a microbe would need to survive: tolerable temperatures, reasonable pH levels, and sources of organic carbon that are on par with soil and water. It's just a matter of surveying the air to discover whether the microbes are metabolically active for extended periods of time while suspended in cloud water and in the air, she said, which would suggest that they are inhabitants of the atmosphere rather than passengers on the wind.
"If the atmosphere is a habitat where microbes live, this will fundamentally change our conceptions of atmospheric processes," Green added.