Sulfur: The plankton/climate connection

Gillian Malin, Suzanne M. Turner, Peter S. Liss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Question (Aiken et al.): Given the uncertainties involved in the calculation of air-sea exchange of gases such as DMS, is it possible to assess by other methods the importance of natural versus anthropogenic sulfur emissions? Answer: In our paper we discuss various approaches that have been taken to estimate the rate of emission of DMS from the oceans including models (Erikson et al. 1990, Thompson et al. 1990) and the use of observed concentration fields of DMS combined with knowledge of air-sea transfer velocity (Andreae 1986, Bates et al. 1987b). In addition measurements of MSA in atmospheric aerosols can be used to infer the emission of DMS into the atmosphere (J. Prospero, University of Miami, pers. commun.). Many studies (not reviewed in this paper) have investigated the emissions of sulfur from manmade sources. In all these attempts, an assessment is often made of the relative importance of the two sources, although the methodology used to calculate biogenic and anthropogenic sources are fundamentally different. The only consistent approach we are aware of, which has the potential to directly ascribe sulfur in the atmosphere to its major sources, is through the use of sulfur isotope signature measurements. The method relies on the sulfur isotope signature of fossil fuels being significantly different from that of DMS and its oxidation products. This approach shows great promise and is currently being investigated in our laboratory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-597
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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