Bird Feces Contribute To The Cool Atmosphere Of The Arctic, Study Reveals

First Posted: Nov 18, 2016 03:30 AM EST

Researchers discovered that the guano or feces of the migratory seabirds has a slight cooling effect in the Arctic during its warmer months. They found that there are higher levels of ammonia in the air in the Arctic sites that come from the feces of the birds.

The findings of the study were published in Nature Communications. The study was led by a team of researchers from the U.S., Sweden and Canada. The researchers made an expedition to the Canadian Arctic two years ago. They collected samples for study and found that in the certain times of the year when the temperature is above freezing, there was an increased ammonia level.

They thought that the rise in ammonia levels came from the sea. On the other hand, it was not coming from the sea rather from the millions of birds that migrate to Arctic regions.

The team found that the guano or feces of these birds released ammonia when it was broken down by bacteria. When the ammonia was combined with sulfuric acid and water molecules from ocean spray, there were airborne particles that were formed into the atmosphere. This contributes to cloud formation. These low-lying clouds then can reflect heat from the Sun back into space and makes the area cooler, according to Phys. Org.

On the other hand, it is not cool enough to combat the global warming, noted the researchers. Somehow, studying the effects of the bird feces is significant.

Betty Croft from the Dalhousie University in Halifax in Canada and the first author of the study said that their study just highlights one connection. On the other hand, she further said that it is a good reminder that the migration patterns of animals -- which are shifting in the wake of climate change -- might help keep the planet running as usual, as noted by Popular Science. 

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