Surface ocean microbiota determine cloud precursors
The emission of sea spray plays a major role in the Earth climate system via influencing cloud properties. A recent study describes a consistent significant relationship between seawater nanophytoplankton cell abundances and sea-spray derived Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) number fluxes, generated using water samples from the Mediterranean Sea, New Zealand coastal waters, and Arctic coastal waters. This sensitivity of CCN number fluxes to ocean biology is currently unaccounted for in climate models yet the results indicate that it influences fluxes by more than one order of magnitude over the range of phytoplankton investigated.
This study is a contribution to the ProcEss studies at the Air-sEa Interface after dust deposition in the MEditerranean sea (PEACETIME) project. The SOLAS-endorsed project Sea2Cloud supported this work financially.