Wintertime Arctic Sea Spray Aerosol Composition Controlled by Sea Ice Lead Microbiology
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Wintertime Arctic Sea Spray Aerosol Composition Controlled by Sea Ice Lead Microbiology
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    ACS Cent Sci. 2019 Nov 27; 5(11): 1760–1767.
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    The Arctic is experiencing the greatest warming on Earth, as most evident by rapid sea ice loss. Delayed sea ice freeze-up in the Alaskan Arctic is decreasing wintertime sea ice extent and changing marine biological activity. However, the impacts of newly open water on wintertime sea spray aerosol (SSA) production and atmospheric composition are unknown. Herein, we identify SSA, produced locally from open sea ice fractures (leads), as the dominant aerosol source in the coastal Alaskan Arctic during winter, highlighting the year-round nature of Arctic SSA emissions. Nearly all of the individual SSA featured thick organic coatings, consisting of marine saccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, and divalent cations, consistent with exopolymeric secretions produced as cryoprotectants by sea ice algae and bacteria. In contrast, local summertime SSA lacked these organic carbon coatings, or featured thin coatings, with only open water nearby. The individual SSA composition was not consistent with frost flowers or surface snow above sea ice, suggesting that neither hypothesized frost flower aerosolization nor blowing snow sublimation resulted in the observed SSA. These results further demonstrate the need for inclusion of lead-based SSA production in modeling of Arctic atmospheric composition. The identified connections between changing sea ice, microbiology, and SSA point to the significance of sea ice lead biogeochemistry in altering Arctic atmospheric composition, clouds, and climate feedbacks during winter.
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