Can simple models predict large-scale surface ocean isoprene concentrations?
Abstract. We use isoprene and related field measurements from three different ocean data sets together with remotely sensed satellite data to model global marine isoprene emissions. We show that using monthly mean satellite-derived chl a concentrations to parameterize isoprene with a constant chl a normalized isoprene production rate underpredicts the measured oceanic isoprene concentration by a mean factor of 19 ± 12. Improving the model by using phytoplankton functional type dependent production values and by decreasing the bacterial degradation rate of isoprene in the water column results in only a slight underestimation (factor 1.7 ± 1.2). We calculate global isoprene emissions of 0.21 Tg C for 2014 using this improved model, which is twice the value calculated using the original model. Nonetheless, the sea-to-air fluxes have to be at least 1 order of magnitude higher to account for measured atmospheric isoprene mixing ratios. These findings suggest that there is at least one missing oceanic source of isoprene and, possibly, other unknown factors in the ocean or atmosphere influencing the atmospheric values. The discrepancy between calculated fluxes and atmospheric observations must be reconciled in order to fully understand the importance of marine-derived isoprene as a precursor to remote marine boundary layer particle formation.