Biogenically driven organic contribution to marine aerosol

TitleBiogenically driven organic contribution to marine aerosol
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsO'Dowd, C.D., Facchini M.C., Cavalli F., Ceburnis D., Mircea Mihaela, Decesari S., Fuzzi S., Young J.Y., and Putaud J.-P.
Keywordsaerosol, aerosol formation, Aerosol mass, Aerosols, Algae, algal bloom, article, Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean (North), atmosphere, autumn, Biochemical, Biology, Biomass, cellular organisms, Chlorophyll, climate, Climate control, cloud, Clouds, Earth atmosphere, Feedback, Feedback systems, Hydrophilicity, Hydrophobicity, Marine aerosols, Marine applications, marine atmosphere, Marine biology, Molecular Weight, oceanic regions, organic matter, particle size, physical chemistry, Plankton, priority journal, seasonal variation, Seasons, Seawater, simulation, Solubility, spring, World

Marine aerosol contributes significantly to the global aerosol load and consequently has an important impact on both the Earth's albedo and climate. So far, much of the focus on marine aerosol has centred on the production of aerosol from sea-salt1 and non-sea-salt sulphates2,3. Recent field experiments, however, have shown that known aerosol production processes for inorganic species cannot account for the entire aerosol mass that occurs in submicrometre sizes4-6. Several experimental studies have pointed to the presence of significant concentrations of organic matter in marine aerosol7,11. There is some information available about the composition of organic matter12,14, but the contribution of organic matter to marine aerosol, as a function of aerosol size, as well as its characterization as hydrophilic or hydrophobic, has been lacking. Here we measure the physical and chemical characteristics of submicrometre marine aerosol over the North Atlantic Ocean during plankton blooms progressing from spring through to autumn. We find that during bloom periods, the organic fraction dominates and contributes 63% to the submicrometre aerosol mass (about 45% is water-insoluble and about 18% water-soluble). In winter, when biological activity is at its lowest, the organic fraction decreases to 15%. Our model simulations indicate that organic matter can enhance the cloud droplet concentration by 15% to more than 100% and is therefore an important component of the aerosol-cloud-climate feedback system involving marine biota.


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