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MAP - Secondary Marine Aerosol Production from Natural Sources

Summary information

Funding:FP6 - Specific Targeted Research Project
Total cost:3050000
Ec contribution:2600000
Start date:2005-09-15
End date:2009-03-14
Duration:42 months
Coordinator:Colin O'Dowd (
Organisation:National University of Ireland – Ireland
Keywords:Marine aerosol, climate feedback mechanisms, Meteorology, Environmental Protection, Resources of the Sea, Fisheries
Project name:MAP - Secondary Marine Aerosol Production from Natural Sources
Project summary:Marine aerosol contributes significantly to the global radiative budget and consequently, changes in marine aerosol abundance and/or chemical composition will impact on climate change. Various climate feedback mechanisms have been proposed involving the sulphur, sea-salt, iodine and organic sea-spray cycles; however, all cycles and their impacts on aerosol haze and cloud layers remain poorly quantified. MAP aimed at consolidating the current state-of-the-art in the fields of aerosol nucleation and growth and primary marine aerosol (PMA) production to quantify the key processes associated with primary and secondary marine aerosol (SMA) production from natural sources. MAP focused on the newly identified aerosol formation mechanisms involving iodine oxides, for secondary aerosol production, and the primary production of marine organic matter aerosols produced by plankton and transferred to the atmosphere via the bubble bursting process at the ocean surface. Key processes have been identified, parameterized and implemented in a Global/Regional-scale chemical transport model and in a regional climate model. Combining the knowledge gathered on key processes with satellite-derived information on oceanic and meteorological parameters, an algorithm has been developed to produce a Sea-Spray Source Function (S3F) which was subsequently used in large scale models to quantify the impacts of marine aerosols. The algorithm and its application are a product contributing to GMES/GEOSS. Similarly, an organo-iodine source function will be further developed in the future, building on the foundations laid out in MAP. The impact of marine aerosol on atmospheric chemistry, radiative forcing and climate have been evaluated using the large-scale models.

The Specific MAP Objectives were:
- To elucidate the dominant condensable vapours driving secondary marine aerosol (SMA) formation.
- To quantify the number and size flux of primary inorganic and organic marine sea-spray aerosol (PMA)
- To produce a PMA and iodo-carbon source function using integrated Global Earth Observing satellite data and in-situ data.
- To quantify the impact of SMA and PMA on radiative forcing and atmospheric chemistry
Project outputs:MAP was an ambitious programme of aerosol observations and modelling studies aimed at elucidation of the key formation and transformation processes associated with marine aerosols, and the implementation of these key processes into regional and global chemical transport and climate models in order to quantify regional and global marine aerosol budgets and impacts on the radiative budget. The complexity of marine aerosol characterisation, formation and impacts, and its tight coupling to the marine biological cycle is evident from the new results found in MAP. While MAP was very successful in achieving its goals and objectives, the project raised many new questions as it endeavoured to answer the key questions set out at the start of the project. Significant advances were made in our understanding of marine aerosol formation processes and its complex chemical composition, but the system is far from “well understood” and significantly more work is required to fully address the role of marine aerosol in biogeochemical cycling and climate change. In summary, marine aerosol is perhaps the most significant, albeit most complex, natural aerosol component globally, with significant contributions to the global radiative budget which is tightly coupled to dynamical and biological processes, both of which are expected to change with future climate change. Consequently, as previously suggested, marine aerosol is connected to climate feedback coupling, the magnitude and sign of which, however, still remains to be determined.

Basic advances in knowledge have been, and continue to be, communicated to the community through peer-reviewed publications in international journals and through international conferences and workshops.
In terms of using the knowledge, a number of aerosol formation schemes, for both secondary and primary aerosol production, have been developed and implemented in MAP’s main regional and global models. Further, the sea-spray source function has been supplied to the EUCAARI IP and is being implemented in both regional and global EUCAARI models.

The MAP database is also available for model evaluation, as is the case for GEMS/MACC Integrated Forecast System, and is also currently being used in a range of global models for model performance evaluation.

Although the project is completed, dissemination of results will continue on the basis of opportunity and through the completion of MAP publications which extend beyond the MAP period. A total of 37 scientific papers have been produced to date, and a greater amount of conference abstracts/extended abstracts have been produced.