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MILAF – 2017: Biophysical atmospheric processes, 1 – 3 November 2017


Workshop announcement

MILAF – 2017: Biophysical atmospheric processes

1 – 3 November 2017

Sven Lovén Center for Marine Infrastructure, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


For the past decade there has been a growing effort to bring together scientists in the Life Sciences, Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics to explore the interaction of biological aerosol particles with cloud processes leading to rain and snowfall. This effort has been motivated by the discovery of the highly efficient power of certain microorganisms and various other biological particles to catalyze the freezing of water. The ubiquitous distribution of these biological particles in nature enables them to play analogous roles to other non-biological aerosol particles (dust, soot etc.), in facilitating the heterogeneous nucleation of condensed water that leads to precipitation in the form of rain, ice and snow. The fact that biological particles have been shown to catalyze ice formation at much warmer temperatures than non-biological particles underpins fundamental questions about how precipitation and biological systems are linked.  The answers to such questions have important implications for understanding climate forcing and feedbacks, including the interplay between aerobiology, species dispersal and the planetary energy budget.

As part of this effort, a series of MILAF (Microbes at the Interface of Land-Atmosphere Feedbacks) workshops have been dedicated to mentoring early career scientists who can contribute to the future of this evolving and exciting interdisciplinary research theme (this link includes details about the objectives, organization and content of previous meetings: These workshops are aimed at creating collegial interactions among the diverse participants to optimize the synergy of disciplines, which often lack a common language. Thus the goal is to enhance the passion of the participants and revisit subjects where there exists consensus on the state of knowledge, while identifying the major challenges and opportunities wherein collaboration may fill distinct scientific knowledge gaps. The workshops have spurred numerous collaborations.

Objectives and venue

To continue in the spirit of the earlier MILAF workshops, the next workshop on biophysical atmospheric processes will be held from 1 – 3 November 2017 at the Kristineberg location of the Sven Lovén Center for Marine Infrastructure ( of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The workshop will focus on bridging knowledge gaps and building and growing interdisciplinary collaborations on two specific themes:

1) Non-classical approaches to nucleation in the atmosphere and

2) The significance of biologically catalyzed nucleation and precipitation for long distance dissemination of microorganisms and eventual species dispersal and co-evolution with the climate.

These themes were chosen because aerosol forcing remains the single most uncertain feedback in Earth system modeling.  A key lack of fundamental understanding stems from deficient representations of how ice in clouds forms and metamorphoses — and what promotes and/or inhibits ice crystal growth.  Observations demonstrate that only a minor fraction of the atmospheric particles stimulate ice formation and growth in clouds, with important implications for precipitation and cloud-radiative feedbacks. However, there is a growing consensus that biological materials catalyze ice nucleation more efficiently than other substances.  Therein lies a host of interesting implications for biological, physical, and chemical sciences. For example, atmospheric dispersal of microorganisms, is a potential pathway for ancient and contemporary colonization and exchange of genetic material and thus has posed selective pressure on microbes for over 3 billion years. Microbes that have traits enabling them to actively interact with global water and element cycles may acquire benefits relative to others without such traits.  Adaptations like those that would initiate atmospheric water phase transitions to trigger deposition, could promote survival and successful dispersal for such biogenic materials.  That said, both the biological and fundamental molecular-level physical understanding of nucleation in the atmosphere is lacking.


The workshop will be organized to facilitate rich interactions among participants and to limit, as much as possible, the costs for the participants. The activities of the workshop will balance the time dedicated to formal presentations with time for group discussion and prospection. The specific organization will be set up by the scientific committee depending on proposals from the participants. There will be no registration fees. The organizers have obtained sufficient funding to accommodate costs for about 30 participants. This funding will cover housing for the nights of 1, 2 and 3 November at the Sven Lovén Center (double occupancy in most cases), and all meals on these dates except the evening meal on 3 November.  Participants will be expected to pay for their travel, and for the evening meal at the end of the workshop if they want to participate in this meal. Participants should plan to arrive on the night of 31 Oct (at or nearby the workshop site) and to depart on 4 Nov.

How to participate

All participants will be expected to play active roles in the workshop. To participate, please submit two documents:

1) A short description of the topic that you would like to discuss at the meeting. This topic could be a subject for a formal presentation or for orchestrated group debate to assess the consensus or diversity of viewpoints.

2) A short statement (less than 1 page) about why you would like to participate in this meeting.

In the event that the number of applications exceeds the current budget allocation, the scientific committee will either select participants among the candidates (to assure that a diversity of scientific competences are represented) or they will invite all applicants to participate but ask them to pay a registration fee so that funds for housing and meals can be distributed to all participants.  Please submit your requests as soon as possible to Cindy Morris ( (replace “-at-” by “@” before sending message). We will finalize the list of participants by 1 October to give participants time to organize their travel.


Scientific Committee

-Erik Thomson, Assistant Professor for Research, Dept. of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Gothenburg, SE. Local Organizer

-Cindy E. Morris, Research Director, Plant Pathology Research Unit, INRA, Avignon, FR

-Tina Santl-Temkiv, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, DK.

-Brent Christner, Professor, Dept. of Microbiology and Cell Science, Univ. of Florida, USA.

-Vaughan Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Dept. Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, SE.

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