As Montreal hunkers down for yet another winter snowstorm, marching ever closer to the all time record of 383 cm in a single winter, I'm reminded of an old quote by Mark Twain. "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." Maybe now, the time for action has come.
Brent Christner a researcher from Louisiana State University has found that at the centre of many of those unique snowflakes lies a bacterium called Pseudomonas syringae. It is well known that water vapour requires a nucleator around which it can freeze. Small particles have been the usual suspects but Christner has found that the P. syringae is found in the snow from all over the world and in significant amounts. Interestingly, this same bacteria can also cause ice formation on plant leaves. While it irks me that it takes someone from Louisiana to unravel the mysteries of snow, I am glad someone is on the case. So now that we have the microbe, is someone working on a treatment. Would aerosol antibiotics help? Could Montreal be vaccinated against winter?