Sea spray simulation tank and aerosol sampling on RV Elektra

Docent Paul Zieger next to the Sea spray simulation tank, it’s dedicated DMPS system and additional aerosol instrumentation, in the laboratory onboard RV Elektra. Photo: Douglas Nilsson, August 2021.

ICOS Östergarnsholm and RV Electra

ICOS Östergarnsholm flux station (from left to right: 40m CO2 flux mast of Uppsala University, 12m aerosol flux tower of Stockholm University). In the background: RV Elektra of Askö from the Baltic Centre of Stockholm Universiy, with our Sea spray simulation tank onboard, and instrumentation for physical, chemical and biological aerosol characterization. Photo: Piotr Markuszewski, August 2021.

Sea spray simulation tank onboard RV Elektra

Gabriel Freitas next to the Sea spray simulation tank onboard RV Elektra. Photo: Douglas Nilsson, August 2021.

Aerosols scatter sun light and act as Cloud Condensation Nucleus (CCN), which cause the most uncertain man-made climate forcing. Sea spray aerosols (SSA) are the largest natural aerosol source. SSA emissions are driven by wind, water temperature, sea ice, salinity and marine micro-biology, all which are influenced by climate change, causing feed-back loops. We have got a fair grip on how physical factors influence the SSA sea salt part but are largely in the dark on the organic and biological fractions, and on the influence of salinity and biology. To quantify in situ emissions, we will use Eddy Covariance (EC ) fluxes. EC requires very fast sensors, which makes it impossible to characterise chemistry, microbiology and CCN-properties at the same time. Instead this will be done in a SSA simulation tank. We have previously successfully applied both methods separately. Applying both simultaneously, with water from the flux-foot-print in the tank, kept at in situ temperature, will give both characterisation and quantification. I smaller pilot project was published in 2021 (Nilsson et al., 2021), where the preliminary analysis had worked as “proof of concept” in the VR-proposal that financed this project.

Aerosol eddy covariance tower at ICOS Östergarnsholm

Dr. Piotr Markuszewski serving the equipment in the aerosol eddy covariance flux tower at ICOS Östergarnsholm. August 2021, Photo: Douglas Nilsson, August 2021.

In the original plans we intended to make a campaign at the ICOS-station of Östergarnsholm in the Baltic Sea, where we have unique multiple year EC -aerosol-fluxes, bringing the SSA simulation tank experiment to the island. The limited power available at the station has prevented that. We also intended to participate in one cruise in the Atlantic/Arctic/Pacific/Indian oceans, but currently the pandemic postponed most deep see expeditions. Limitations to travels and field work by Stockholm University or national authorities also postponed our work and forced us to reconsider our plans. We will therefore instead perform 3 shorter campaigns in the Baltic where smaller research ships are brought to Östergarnsholm, and the SSA simulation tank experiments are performed onboard the ships. These are:

Aerosol sampling on RV Elektra

Julika Zinke preparing aerosol samples in a clean air cabinet onboard RV Elektra. Photo: Douglas Nilsson, August 2021.

RV Oceania in May 2021.
RV Electra in August 2021.
-RV Oceania in September-October 2021.
In combination, these three cruises will hopefully provide us with a large enough data set to meet the original objectives. The limitation is that we will only get data in brackish water, but that cannot currently be avoided.

Since such large part of the data set will be made in brackish water, and the effect of salinity on sea spray formation was not well understood, we have during 2020-21 carried through a number of laboratory experiments with salinities from 0 to 35 ppm and temperatures from 0 to 30 degrees Celcius. The analysis of these data assure that

Transport of scientific equipment

Matt Salter, Paul Zieger and Julika Zinke loading scientific equipment on a lorry for transport to Gdansk, Poland, for use onboard RS Oceania during the first CROISSANT field campaign of 2021 with RV Oceania. Photo: Douglas Nilsson, May 2021. 

we do not mistake an effect of salinity changes for an effect of for example changes in microbiological activity or organic surfactants. This study is currently in review (Zinker et al., in review).

The combination of EC aerosol fluxes and detailed physical, chemical and microbiological analysis of the sea spray produced in the sea spray simulation tank will enable us to derive source parameterizations for the organic SSA, and the effect of salinity, as well as enrichment factors for micro-organisms, suitable for climate

Transport of Scientific Equipment

Unfortunately the only way to transport scientific equipment across the Östergarnsholm island between the concrete pier that serve as harbor, and the flux station. Photo: Douglas Nilsson, August 2021.

models or other large scale models. This is the main objective of the project.


Contact information

Visiting addresses:

Geovetenskapens Hus,
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, Stockholm

Arrheniuslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16, Stockholm (Unit for Toxicological Chemistry)

Mailing address:
Department of Environmental Science
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm

Press enquiries should be directed to:

Stella Papadopoulou
Science Communicator
Phone +46 (0)8 674 70 11