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Title: Natural Aerosols Explain Seasonal and Spatial Patterns of Southern Ocean Cloud Albedo

Small particles called aerosols act as nucleation sites for cloud drop formation, affecting clouds and cloud properties – ultimately influencing the cloud dynamics, lifetime, water path and areal extent that determine the reflectivity (albedo) of clouds. The concentration Nd of droplets in clouds that influences planetary albedo is sensitive to the availability of aerosol particles on which the droplets form. Natural aerosol concentrations not only affect cloud properties themselves, but also modulate the sensitivity of clouds to changes in anthropogenic aerosols. Here, it is shown that modeled natural aerosols, principally marine biogenic primary and secondary aerosol sources, explain more than half of the spatiotemporal variability in satellite-observed Nd. Enhanced Nd over regions of high biological activity is found to be driven primarily by high concentrations of sulfate aerosol at lower Southern Ocean latitudes (35-45°S) and by organic matter in sea spray aerosol at higher latitudes (45-55°S). Biogenic sources are estimated to increase the summertime mean reflected solar radiation in excess of 10 W m-2 over parts of the Southern Ocean, which is comparable to the annual mean increases expected from anthropogenic aerosols over heavily polluted regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
47994; KP1703020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: American Journal of Science, 1(6):Art. No. e1500157
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Modeled sulfate; organic mass; sea spray aerosol; cloud droplet concentration; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory