Unique ocean-derived particles serve as a proxy for changes in ocean chemistry

Cassandra J. Gaston, Hiroshi Furutani, Sergio A. Guazzotti, Keith R. Coffee, Timothy S. Bates, Patricia K. Quinn, Lihini I. Aluwihare, B. Gregory Mitchell, Kimberly A. Prather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Oceans represent a significant natural source of gases and particles to the atmosphere. Relative to gas phase compounds, less is known regarding the influence of changes in biological activity in the ocean on the chemistry of sea spray aerosols produced in marine environments. To gain insight into the influence of ocean biology and chemistry on atmospheric aerosol chemistry, simultaneous real-time measurements were made of atmospheric aerosol size and chemical mixing-state, gas phase dimethyl sulfide (DMS), as well as seawater DMS and chlorophyll a. In three different marine environments with elevated chlorophyll a and DMS, unique Mg particles were detected containing Mg 2+, Ca2+, K+, and organic carbon. These particles were segregated from sea salt particles highlighting that two subpopulations within the sea spray were being ejected from the ocean. Strong temporal correlations were observed between these unique ocean-derived particles and freshly emitted sea salt particles (R2 = 0.86), particularly as wind speed increased to at least 10 m/s, and atmospheric DMS (R2 = 0.76). Time series correlations between ocean measurements and atmospheric aerosol chemistry suggest that chlorophyll a and DMS serve as indicators of changes in the chemistry of the ocean, most likely an increase in organic material, which is directly reflected in the single particle mixing-state. This is the first time such real-time correlations are shown between ocean chemistry and atmospheric aerosol mixing-state. The reasons behind these observed changes in aerosol chemistry are critical for understanding the heterogeneous reactivity, water uptake, and cloud forming potential of sea spray aerosols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD18310
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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