The nexus between sea ice and polar emissions of marine biogenic aerosols
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Accurate estimation of the climate sensitivity requires a better understanding of the nexus between polar marine ecosystem responses to warming, changes in sea ice extent, and emissions of marine biogenic aerosol (MBA). Sea ice brine channels contain very high concentrations of MBA precursors that, once ventilated, have the potential to alter cloud microphysical properties, such as cloud droplet number, and the regional radiative energy balance. In contrast to temperate latitudes, where the pelagic phytoplankton are major sources of MBAs, the seasonal sea ice dynamic plays a key role in determining MBA concentration in both the Arctic and Antarctic. We review the current knowledge of MBA sources and the link between ice melt and emissions of aerosol precursors in the polar oceans. We illustrate the processes by examining decadal-scale time series in various satellite-derived parameters such as aerosol optical depth (AOD), sea ice extent, and phytoplankton biomass in the sea ice zones of both hemispheres. The sharpest gradients in aerosol indicators occur during the spring period of ice melt. In sea ice–covered waters, the peak in AOD occurs well before the annual maximum in biomass in both hemispheres. The results provide strong evidence that suggests seasonal changes in sea ice and ocean biology are key drivers of the polar aerosol cycle. The positive trend in annual-mean Antarctic sea ice extent is now almost one-third of the magnitude of the annual-mean decrease in Arctic sea ice, suggesting the potential for different patterns of aerosol emissions in the future.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 99 (2018): 61-82, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0254.1.