While it never really rains cats and dogs, living matter does indeed exist in the Earth’s atmosphere, with as yet unknown effects.
Sampling air four and six miles up following tropical storms, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology expected to find little evidence of life in the harsh living environment. In fact, 20 per cent of particles collected within the right size range were bacteria, including several types capable of survival in the upper atmosphere.
The team found largely marine bacteria over ocean and terrestrial bacteria over land, indicating the hurricanes had made local bacteria airborne.
An atmosphere heavy with bacteria has potential significance in our understanding disease transmission, cloud formation, weather, climate and the water cycle.
On this living Earth, even rain may harbour life.