The Arctic is a hot spot for climate change with potentially large consequences on a global scale. Aerosols, including bioaerosols, are important players in regulating the heat balance through direct interaction with sunlight and indirectly, through inducing cloud formation. Airborne bacteria are the major bioaerosols with some species producing the most potent ice nucleating compounds known, which are implicated in the formation of ice in clouds. Little is known about the numbers and dynamics of airborne bacteria in the Arctic and even less about their seasonal variability. We collected aerosol samples and wet deposition samples in spring 2015 and summer 2016, at the Villum Research Station in Northeast Greenland. We used amplicon sequencing and qPCR targeting the 16S rRNA genes to assess the quantities and composition of the DNA and cDNA-level bacterial community. We found a clear seasonal variation in the atmospheric bacterial community, which is likely due to variable sources and meteorology. In early spring, the atmospheric bacterial community was dominated by taxa originating from temperate and Subarctic regions and arriving at the sampling site through long-range transport. We observed an efficient washout of the aerosolized bacterial cells during a snowstorm, which was followed by very low concentrations of bacteria in the atmosphere during the consecutive 4 weeks. We suggest that this is because in late spring, the long-range transport ceased, and the local sources which comprised only of ice and snow surfaces were weak resulting in low bacterial concentrations. This was supported by observed changes in the chemical composition of aerosols. In summer, the air bacterial community was confined to local sources such as soil, plant material and melting sea-ice. Aerosolized and deposited Cyanobacteria in spring had a high activity potential, implying their activity in the atmosphere or in surface snow. Overall, we show how the composition of bacterial aerosols in the high Arctic varies on a seasonal scale, identify their potential sources, demonstrate how their community sizes varies in time, investigate their diversity and determine their activity potential during and post Arctic haze.
- Arctic haze
- atmospheric bacterial community
- ice nucleation
- microbial activity