Open ocean and coastal new particle formation from sulphuric acid and amines around the Antarctic Peninsula

Hansell et al. 2021


A new study by the University of Birmingham, UK, and the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM), Spain, has revealed that Antarctic sea ice melt enhances the formation of aerosols in the atmosphere, with potentially important consequences for cloud formation and regional climate. The Polar atmosphere-ice-ocean Interactions: Impact on Climate and Ecology (PI-ICE) 2019 Antarctic project, led by the ICM researcher Manuel Dall’Osto, found that aerosol formation episodes were more frequent when air masses came from around the sea-ice edge. This air contained high concentrations of sulphuric acid and methylamines produced by marine and sea-ice microbes, which formed molecular clusters that became new particles. This mechanism is more efficient for aerosol formation than sulphuric acid alone or in combination with ammonia. This study confirms air-sea exchanges in the marginal sea-ice ecosystem as a key player in Antarctic climate.

Reference: Brean, J., Dall’Osto, M., Simó, R., et al. (2021). Open ocean and coastal new particle formation from sulfuric acid and amines around the Antarctic Peninsula. Nat. Geosci.,14, 383-388.

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