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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Fog

Fog

 
Cloud forest Mount Kinabalu, Borneo (credit: Wikipedia)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I love fog, no two ways about it.
 
Growing up in coastal California, there were times during the 'fog season' when everything became shrouded in thick mists that many thought gloomy. I never saw it that way. The 'fog season' always seemed an opportunity to wander on the beach and experience a special but irregular feature of my environment. I was reminded of all this when a remarkable satellite photograph of Southern California and Baja was released by NASA showing both coasts bathed in fog and low clouds laden with moisture.
 
 
 
                 Southern California and Baja fog banks  (credit: NASA)

Fog is the essential environmental component for several specialized ecosystems. Without their regular humidity, the coastal redwoods and their spongy understory would wither and turn brown. Likewise, tropical Cloud Forests would lack the ability to create water from their constant fog drips for cities and farms below or provide habitat for a riot of biodiversity. A report in Science, Cloud Forest Trees Drink From the Fog, illustrated just how aggressively these specialized forests utilize the fog. A number of tree species in Central American cloud forests "slurp" fog droplets through their leaves. These forests are now endangered from a changing climate that is becoming less "foggy". The new findings raises concerns that these montane forests are even more fragile than originally thought.
 
 
 
                              Cloud Forests (credit: Fray Jorge NP, Chile)
 
In other environments, fog plays the essential ecological role as well. The Namib and Atacama deserts receive virtually no rainfall  so life has had to adapt to the hyper-aridity. The Namib Desert is so dry, beetles have evolved special hairs they use to comb fog for water droplet which the bugs then stick to their bodies for consumption later. In the Atacama, plants sense moisture and grow quickly to reproduce only when fogs bath the desert soils.

Even with all the ecological importance of fog and the biodiversity and beauty the weather condition produces, this will be jeopardized if fogs decline. Also, where will film noir movie producers find a better backdrop for their misty thrillers?
 
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