In addition to oxygen, nitrogen or carbon dioxide, the air we breathe contains small amounts of organic gases, such as benzene and toluene.
In addition to oxygen, nitrogen or carbon dioxide, the air we breathe contains small amounts of organic gases, such as benzene and toluene. These oxidize into small particles or aerosols that contribute to the condensation of water in the droplets that form clouds. Now, a study by the Institut de Cièncias del Mar (ICM-CSIC), the Instituto de Química Física Rocasolano (IQFR-CSIC) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) stresses the importance of clouds, which filter solar radiation, for understanding past and future climate changes.
"If we don't get the clouds right, we won't get the climate right," says Charel Wohl, ICM-CSIC researcher and lead author of the study. "We are just beginning to unveil the multiple ingredients that form cloud seeds," he adds.
The work, published in the journal Science Advances, describes the first measurements of benzene and toluene in polar oceans and indicates that these compounds have a biological origin. Until now, their presence in polar marine air was thought to be a proof of the extent of human pollution from coal and oil combustion or solvent use, among others.
Read more at: Institut de Ciencies del Mar
Day of strong winds in the Southern Ocean aboard the RRS James Clark Ross (Photo Credit: ICM-CSIC)