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Title: A marine biogenic source of atmospheric ice-nucleating particles

The formation of ice in clouds is facilitated by the presence of airborne ice nucleating particles1,2. Sea spray is one of the major global sources of atmospheric particles, but it is unclear to what extent these particles are capable of nucleating ice3–11. Here we show that material in the sea surface microlayer, which is enriched in surface active organic material representative of that found in sub-micron sea- spray aerosol12–21, nucleates ice under conditions that occur in mixed-phase clouds and high-altitude ice clouds. The ice active material is likely biogenic and is less than ~0.2 ?m in size. We also show that organic material (exudate) released by a common marine diatom nucleates ice when separated from cells and propose that organic material associated with phytoplankton cell exudates are a candidate for the observed ice nucleating ability of the microlayer samples. By combining our measurements with global model simulations of marine organic aerosol, we show that ice nucleating particles of marine origin are dominant in remote marine environments, such as the Southern Ocean, the North Pacific and the North Atlantic.
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Nature, 525(7568):234-238
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States