Brown seaweed is to blame for some of those cloudy days at the seaside, scientists believe. Stress among the plants can alter weather patterns, according to researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science and the University of Manchester.Not only does the kelp make clouds (reflecting sunshine), but it also helps to replenish ozone and can be used to make Agar-Agar which is, in turn, used in making many ice creams and other confections. It's even used in brewing beer as a clarifying agent.
On an overcast day kelp are comfortable when the tide goes out, as they stay damp until it comes in again. But on a bright day they dry, releasing iodide. The iodide rises, causing clouds to form overhead, sheltering the kelp from the unwelcome sunshine.
Frithjof Küpper, of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, who led the research, saidthat the salt helped to neutralise ozone in the atmosphere and, as it rose, “these chemicals act as condensation nuclei around which clouds may form”.
Kelp is found in large quantities in the Hebrides, Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire and Anglesey. Scotland’s kelp beds are among the most extensive in Europe, with the Western Isles and Orkney archipelago among the main centres of soda ash production.
Monday, May 12, 2008
You know, nature is always so much cooler than fiction: