Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Research article
19 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 19 Feb 2013

Near-surface measurements of sea spray aerosol production over whitecaps in the open ocean

S. J. Norris, I. M. Brooks, B. I. Moat, M. J. Yelland, G. de Leeuw, R. W. Pascal, and B. Brooks

Abstract. Simultaneous measurements of near-surface aerosol (0.12 < R < 9.25 μm) and bubble spectra (13 < R < 620 μm) were made during five buoy deployments in the open ocean of the North Atlantic and used to estimate aerosol fluxes per unit area of whitecap. The measurements were made during two cruises as part of the Sea Spray, Gas Flux, and Whitecaps (SEASAW) project, a UK contribution to the international Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) program. The mean bubble number concentrations for each deployment are in broad agreement with other open ocean spectra and are consistently one to two orders of magnitude lower than surf zone studies. Production fluxes per unit area of whitecap are estimated from the mean aerosol concentration for each buoy deployment. They are found to increase with wind speed, and span the range of values found by previous laboratory and surf-zone studies for particles with radius at 80% relative humidity, R80 < 1 μm, but to drop off more rapidly with increasing particle size for larger particles. Estimates of the mean sea spray flux were made by scaling the whitecap production fluxes with in situ estimates of whitecap fraction. The sea spray fluxes are also compared with simultaneous individual eddy covariance flux estimates, and with a sea spray source function derived from them.