Hurricane Nora Brings Frozen Plankton to U.S. Plains and Creates Spectacular Halos
Plankton and Microbes in Cloud Ice Crystals
Researchers found surprising evidence of sea salt and frozen plankton in high, cold, cirrus clouds, the remnants of Hurricane Nora, over the U.S. plains states. Although the 1997 hurricane was a strong eastern Pacific storm, her high ice-crystal clouds extended many miles inland, carrying ocean phenomena deep into the U.S. heartland.
Kenneth Sassen of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and University of Alaska Fairbanks; W. Patrick Arnott of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nev.; and David O. Starr of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., co-authored a paper about Hurricane Nora’s far-reaching effects. The paper was published in the April 1, 2003, issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.
Scientists were surprised to find what appeared to be frozen plankton in some cirrus crystals collected by research aircraft over Oklahoma, far from the Pacific Ocean. This was the first time examples of microscopic marine life, like plankton, were seen as "nuclei" of ice crystals in the cirrus clouds of a hurricane.
Rob Gutro | Goddard Space Flight Center
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