From: University of California, San Diego
Published May 11, 2017 02:46 PM

Biological Activity Found to Affect Aerosols Produced from Sea Spray

Chemists have discovered that tiny particulate matter called aerosols lofted into the atmosphere by sea spray and the bursting of bubbles at the ocean’s surface are chemically altered by the presence of biological activity.

Their finding, published in this week’s issue of the journal Chem, is a critical discovery that should improve the accuracy of future atmospheric and climate models.

“Simply put, most atmospheric and climate models assume sea spray aerosol particles are made of pure salt,” said Vicki Grassian, a UC San Diego chemistry and biochemistry professor who headed the study, which included scientists at the University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin, UC Davis and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. “Our results show that these particles are much more complex in terms of what they are made of, and that this pure salt assumption is a bad one.”

“Biological activity in the water, which we measured by the amount of chlorophyll and bacteria present,” she added, “play a big role in the what sea spray aerosols are, in fact, composed of—that is, mixtures of salts, organic compounds and biological components.”

Read more at University of California, San Diego

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