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Title: Does Sea Spray Aerosol Contribute Significantly to Aerosol Trace Element Loading? A Case Study From the U.S. GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect (GP15)

Atmospheric deposition represents a major input for micronutrient trace elements (TEs) to the surface ocean and is often quantified indirectly through measurements of aerosol TE concentrations. Sea spray aerosol (SSA) dominates aerosol mass concentration over much of the global ocean, but few studies have assessed its contribution to aerosol TE loading, which could result in overestimates of “new” TE inputs. Low‐mineral aerosol concentrations measured during the U.S. GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect (GP15; 152°W, 56°N to 20°S), along with concurrent towfish sampling of surface seawater, provided an opportunity to investigate this aspect of TE biogeochemical cycling. Central Pacific Ocean surface seawater Al, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb concentrations were combined with aerosol Na data to calculate a “recycled” SSA contribution to aerosol TE loading. Only vanadium was calculated to have a SSA contribution averaging >1% along the transect (mean of 1.5%). We derive scaling factors from previous studies on TE enrichments in the sea surface microlayer and in freshly produced SSA to assess the broader potential for SSA contributions to aerosol TE loading. Maximum applied scaling factors suggest that SSA could contribute significantly to the aerosol loading of some elements (notably V, Cu, and Pb), while more » for others (e.g., Fe and Al), SSA contributions largely remained <1%. Our study highlights that a lack of focused measurements of TEs in SSA limits our ability to quantify this component of marine aerosol loading and the associated potential for overestimating new TE inputs from atmospheric deposition.

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Award ID(s):
1756104 1737167
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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