Knowledge of the size- and composition-dependent production flux of primary sea-spray aerosol (SSA) particles and its dependence on environmental variables is required for modeling cloud microphysical properties and aerosol radiative influences, interpreting measurements of particulate matter in coastal areas and its relation to air quality, and evaluating rates of uptake and reactions of gases in sea-spray drops. This review examines recent research pertinent to SSA production flux with emphasis on particles with r80 (equilibrium radius at 80% relative humidity) less than 1 μm and as small as 0.01 μm. Production of sea-spray particles and its dependence on controlling factors has been investigated in laboratory studies that have examined the dependences on water temperature, salinity, and the presence of organics, and in field measurements with micrometeorological techniques that use newly developed fast optical particle sizers. Extensive measurements show that water-insoluble organic matter contributes substantially to the composition of SSA particles with r80 < 0.25 μm and in locations with high biological activity can be the dominant constituent. Order-of-magnitude variation remains in estimates of the size-dependent production flux per white area, the quantity central to formulations of the production flux based on the whitecap method. This variation indicates that the production flux may depend on quantities, such as the volume flux of air bubbles to the surface, that are not accounted for in current models. Variation in estimates of the whitecap fraction as a function of wind speed contributes additional, comparable uncertainty to production flux estimates.
This page was last updated 2010-12-14.
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