Primary submicron marine aerosol dominated by insoluble organic colloids and aggregates

Maria Cristina Facchini, Matteo Rinaldi, Stefano Decesari, Claudio Carbone, Emanuela Finessi, Mihaela Mircea, Sandro Fuzzi, Darius Ceburnis, Robert Flanagan, E. Douglas Nilsson, Gerrit De Leeuw, M Martino, Janina Woeltjen, Colin D. O'Dowd

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331 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical properties of sea-spray aerosol particles produced by artificially generated bubbles using oceanic waters were investigated during a phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic. Spray particles exhibited a progressive increase in the organic matter (OM) content from 3 ± 0.4% up to 77 ± 5% with decreasing particle diameter from 8 to 0.125 µm. Submicron OM was almost entirely water insoluble (WIOM) and consisted of colloids and aggregates exuded by phytoplankton. Our observations indicate that size dependent transfer of sea water organic material to primary marine particles is mainly controlled by the solubility and surface tension properties of marine OM. The pattern of WIOM and sea-salt content in the different size intervals observed in bubble bursting experiments is similar to that measured in atmospheric marine aerosol samples collected during periods of high biological activity. The results point to a WIOM/sea-salt fingerprint associated with submicron primary marine aerosol production in biologically rich waters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L17814
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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