Articles | Volume 11, issue 16
Research article
30 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 30 Aug 2011

Wind speed dependent size-resolved parameterization for the organic mass fraction of sea spray aerosol

B. Gantt, N. Meskhidze, M. C. Facchini, M. Rinaldi, D. Ceburnis, and C. D. O'Dowd

Abstract. For oceans to be a significant source of primary organic aerosol (POA), sea spray aerosol (SSA) must be highly enriched with organics relative to the bulk seawater. We propose that organic enrichment at the air-sea interface, chemical composition of seawater, and the aerosol size are three main parameters controlling the organic mass fraction of sea spray aerosol (OMSSA). To test this hypothesis, we developed a new marine POA emission function based on a conceptual relationship between the organic enrichment at the air-sea interface and surface wind speed. The resulting parameterization is explored using aerosol chemical composition and surface wind speed from Atlantic and Pacific coastal stations, and satellite-derived ocean concentrations of chlorophyll-a, dissolved organic carbon, and particulate organic carbon. Of all the parameters examined, a multi-variable logistic regression revealed that the combination of 10 m wind speed and surface chlorophyll-a concentration ([Chl-a]) are the most consistent predictors of OMSSA. This relationship, combined with the published aerosol size dependence of OMSSA, resulted in a new parameterization for the organic mass fraction of SSA. Global emissions of marine POA are investigated here by applying this newly-developed relationship to existing sea spray emission functions, satellite-derived [Chl-a], and modeled 10 m winds. Analysis of model simulations shows that global annual submicron marine organic emission associated with sea spray is estimated to be from 2.8 to 5.6 Tg C yr−1. This study provides additional evidence that marine primary organic aerosols are a globally significant source of organics in the atmosphere.

Final-revised paper