Below-ground microbial communities increase carbon cycling due to fog drip and reduced evaporation caused by low-lying clouds.

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Stratus cloud cover has numerous effects and benefits on soil, one of which is an increase in microbial activity. Stratus clouds are low to the ground, and so have more effect of ecosystems. Microbial communities are incredibly responsive to the fog drip and water pulses generated by increased stratus clouds, and their increased activity provides more carbon cycling for ecosystem productivity. These results are particularly notable during the summer when the ecosystem is under water stress.

This summary was contributed by Rachel Major.

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References

"Microbial metabolism was highly responsive to fog drip, illustrated by an observed ~3-fold increase in microbial biomass C with increasing summer fog drip." (Carbone et al., 2013:484)

"Stratus clouds are horizontally developed, typically low-altitude clouds…For our purposes, clouds are considered to be fog whenever they intersect with the land surface, regardless of the impacts on visibility." (Carbone et al. 2013:484)

"In contrast to most seasonally dry ecosystems, surface litter moisture was enhanced by regular fog drip, condensation of dew, high humidity, and reduced evaporative demand in summer. The pattern of C loss from the soil surface was strongly controlled by the timing of fog drip inputs." (Carbone et al. 2013:491)

Journal article
Cloud shading and fog drip influence the metabolism of a coastal pine ecosystemGlob Change BiolOctober 8, 2012
Mariah S. Carbone, A. Park Williams, Anthony R. Ambrose, Claudia M. Boot, Eliza S. Bradley, Todd E. Dawson, Sean M. Schaeffer, Joshua P. Schimel, Christopher J. Still

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