Air–Sea Exchange of Marine Trace Gases

R. Beale, Martin Johnson, P.S. Liss, P.D. Nightingale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract Many of the reactive trace gases detected in the atmosphere are both emitted from and deposited to the global oceans via exchange across the air–sea interface. The resistance to transfer through both air and water phases is highly sensitive to physical drivers (waves, bubbles, films, etc.), which can either enhance or suppress the rate of diffusion. In addition to outlining the fundamental processes controlling the air–sea gas exchange, the authors discuss these drivers, describe the existing parameterizations used to predict transfer velocities, and summarize the novel techniques for measuring in situ exchange rates. They review trace gases that influence climate via radiative forcing (greenhouse gases), those that can alter the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere (nitrogen- and sulfur-containing gases), and those that impact ozone levels (organohalogens), both in the troposphere and stratosphere. They review the known biological and chemical routes of production and destruction within the water column for these gases, whether the ocean acts as a source or sink, and whether temporal and spatial variations in saturation anomalies are observed. A current estimate of the marine contribution to the total atmospheric flux of these gases, which often highlights the significance of the oceans in biogeochemical cycling of trace gases, is provided, and how air–sea gas fluxes may change in the future is briefly assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTreatise on Geochemistry (Second Edition)
EditorsHeinrich D. Holland, Karl K. Turekian
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages40
ISBN (Print)978-0-08-098300-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Air–sea gas exchange
  • Biogeochemical cycling
  • Gas exchange parameterizations
  • Global trace gas budgets
  • Marine trace gases

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