Field measurements of aerosol production from whitecaps in the open ocean
1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK
2National Centre of Oceanography, Southampton, UK
3Climate Change Unit, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Abstract. Simultaneous measurements of near-surface aerosol and bubble spectra 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 SEASAW project, a UK contribution to the international 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 previous laboratory and surf zone studies. This suggests that the aerosol fluxes estimated above open ocean whitecaps will differ to those from over the surf zone and laboratory whitecaps due to the differences in the size and number of bursting bubbles. 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% humidity, R80 < 1 μm, but to drop off more rapidly with increasing size for larger particles. A possible cause of this difference in behavior is the significant difference in bubble spectra. 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 made during the cruise, and with a sea spray source function derived from them.