Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Uncertainties and importance of sea spray composition on aerosol direct and indirect effects

Authors

  • Kostas Tsigaridis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
    • Corresponding author: K. Tsigaridis, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA. (kostas.tsigaridis@columbia.edu)

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  • Dorothy Koch,

    1. Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
    3. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D. C., USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D. C., USA
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  • Surabi Menon

    1. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA
    2. ClimateWorks Foundation, San Francisco, California, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. ClimateWorks Foundation, San Francisco, California, USA
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Abstract

[1] Although ocean-derived aerosols play a critical role in modifying the radiative balance over much of the Earth, their sources are still subject to large uncertainties, concerning not only their total mass flux but also their size distribution and chemical composition. These uncertainties are linked primarily to their source drivers, which is mainly wind speed, but are also linked to other factors, such as the presence of organic compounds in sea spray in addition to sea salt. In order to quantify these uncertainties and identify the larger knowledge gaps, we performed several model runs with online calculation of aerosol sources, removal, and underlying climate. In these simulations, both the direct and indirect aerosol effects on climate are included. The oceanic source of organic aerosols was found to be heavily dependent on the sea-salt parameterization selected. For only a factor of 2 change in assumed fine-mode sea-salt size, a factor of 10 difference in mass emissions was calculated for both sea salt and primary oceanic organics. The annual emissions of oceanic organics were calculated to range from 7.5 to 76 Tg yr-1. The model's performance against remote oceanic measurements was greatly improved when including the high estimates of organics. However, the uncertainty could not be further reduced by bulk sea-salt measurements alone since most parameterizations tested agree reasonably well with measurements of both the (coarse-mode-dominated) sea salt and aerosol optical depth due to large changes in lifetime and optical properties of aerosols when different aerosol sizes are used.

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