Ice nuclei in marine air: biogenic particles or dust?
Abstract. Ice nuclei impact clouds, but their sources and distribution in the atmosphere are still not well known. Particularly little attention has been paid to IN sources in marine environments, although evidence from field studies suggests that IN populations in remote marine regions may be dominated by primary biogenic particles associated with sea spray. In this exploratory model study, we aim to bring attention to this long-neglected topic and identify promising target regions for future field campaigns. We assess the likely global distribution of marine biogenic ice nuclei using a combination of historical observations, satellite data and model output. By comparing simulated marine biogenic immersion IN distributions and dust immersion IN distributions, we predict strong regional differences in the importance of marine biogenic IN relative to dust IN. Our analysis suggests that marine biogenic IN are most likely to play a dominant role in determining IN concentrations in near-surface-air over the Southern Ocean, so future field campaigns aimed at investigating marine biogenic IN should target that region. Climate-related changes in the abundance and emission of biogenic marine IN could affect marine cloud properties, thereby introducing previously unconsidered feedbacks that influence the hydrological cycle and the Earth's energy balance. Furthermore, marine biogenic IN may be an important aspect to consider in proposals for marine cloud brightening by artificial sea spray production.