From: University of Exeter
Published July 10, 2017 04:08 PM

Research looks into whether sea spray is losing its sparkle

Pioneering new research has given a fresh insight into the crucial role that sea spray plays in climate change.

Sea spray, which is produced in abundance across all the world’s oceans, is one of the greatest sources of atmospheric aerosols - tiny particles that not only scatter and absorb sunlight but also influence climate indirectly through their role in cloud formation.

Understanding how these particles take up water from the atmosphere, a process known as hygroscopicity, is important because it determines how much sunlight they reflect and how well they can form clouds.

Sea spray is a complex mixture of inorganic salts, organic material present in the ocean and living organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Now, an international team of researchers, including Dr Daniel Partridge from the University of Exeter, has looked at the ability of one of the inorganic components to take up water, as part of the process of cloud formation.

Using a large suite of well-controlled laboratory experiments the research has shown, for the first time, that the hygroscopicity of these components is significantly lower than pure sodium chloride, a substance routinely used to describe their hygroscopicity in climate models.

Read more at University of Exeter

Image via University of Exeter

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