Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 26157-26205, 2010
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On the impacts of phytoplankton-derived organic matter on the properties of the primary marine aerosol – Part 2: Composition, hygroscopicity and cloud condensation activity
E. Fuentes1, H. Coe1, D. Green2, and G. McFiggans1
1Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
2Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, UK

Abstract. The effect of colloidal and dissolved organic matter <0.2 μm, secreted by marine biota, on the hygroscopic growth and droplet activation behaviour of the primary marine aerosol was studied. Seawater proxies were prepared by the combination of artificial seawater devoid of marine organics and natural seawater enriched in organic exudate released by laboratory-grown phytoplankton cultures, as described in a companion paper. The primary aerosol was produced by bubble bursting, using a plunging multijet system as an aerosol generator.

The aerosol generated from seawater proxies enriched with marine exudate presented organic volume fractions on the order of 5–37%, as derived by applying a simple mixing rule. The hygroscopic growth and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity of the marine organics-enriched particles where 9–17% and 5–24% lower, respectively, than those of the aerosol produced from artificial seawater devoid of exudate. Experiments in a companion paper indicated that the cloud nuclei formation could be enhanced in diatom bloom areas because of the increase in the primary particle production induced by marine organics. The experiments in the present study, however, indicate that the impacts of such an enhancement would be counteracted by the reduction in the CCN activity of the primary particles enriched in marine organics.

The extent of the effect of the biogenic matter on the particle behaviour was dependent on the seawater organic concentration and type of algal exudate. Aerosol produced from seawater proxies containing diatomaceous exudate presented higher hydrophobicity and lower CCN activity than those enriched with nanoplankton exudate. The organic fraction of the particles increased with increasing seawater organic concentration, with the highest organic enrichment found for the diatomaceous exudate. These findings are indicative that, besides the differences induced by the aerosol generator employed, discrepancies between different studies in the behaviour of the organics-enriched primary seaspray could partly be explained by the difference in the nature and concentration of the organic material in the source seawater employed.

Consistently across the experiments, theoretical analysis based on the Köhler model predicted a reduction in the primary seaspray CCN activity upon the incorporation of marine organics into the particle composition. This effect is consequence of the replacement of small inorganic sea salt molecules by large molar mass organic molecules, together with a moderate suppression of the surface tension at the point of activation of 5–0.5%, which leads to a dominance of the reduction in the dissolved solute in the Raoult term.

Citation: Fuentes, E., Coe, H., Green, D., and McFiggans, G.: On the impacts of phytoplankton-derived organic matter on the properties of the primary marine aerosol – Part 2: Composition, hygroscopicity and cloud condensation activity, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 26157-26205, doi:10.5194/acpd-10-26157-2010, 2010.
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