Connecting marine productivity to sea-spray via nanoscale biological processes: Phytoplankton Dance or Death Disco?

Colin O'dowd, Darius Ceburnis, Jurgita Ovadnevaite, Jakub Bialek, Dagmar B. Stengel, Merry Zacharias, Udo Nitschke, Solene Connan, Matteo Rinaldi, Sandro Fuzzi, Stefano Decesari, Maria Cristina Facchini, Salvatore Marullo, Rosalia Santoleri, Antonio Dell'anno, Cinzia Corinaldesi, Michael Tangherlini, Roberto Danovaro

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Bursting bubbles at the ocean-surface produce airborne salt-water spray-droplets, in turn, forming climate-cooling marine haze and cloud layers. The reflectance and ultimate cooling effect of these layers is determined by the spray's water-uptake properties that are modified through entrainment of ocean-surface organic matter (OM) into the airborne droplets. We present new results illustrating a clear dependence of OM mass-fraction enrichment in sea spray (OM ss) on both phytoplankton-biomass, determined from Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) and Net Primary Productivity (NPP). The correlation coefficient for OM ss as a function of Chl-a increased form 0.67 on a daily timescale to 0.85 on a monthly timescale. An even stronger correlation was found as a function of NPP, increasing to 0.93 on a monthly timescale. We suggest the observed dependence is through the demise of the bloom, driven by nanoscale biological processes (such as viral infections), releasing large quantities of transferable OM comprising cell debris, exudates and other colloidal materials. This OM, through aggregation processes, leads to enrichment in sea-spray, thus demonstrating an important coupling between biologically-driven plankton bloom termination, marine productivity and sea-spray modification with potentially significant climate impacts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14883
Pages (from-to)-
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

O'dowd, C., Ceburnis, D., Ovadnevaite, J., Bialek, J., Stengel, D. B., Zacharias, M., Nitschke, U., Connan, S., Rinaldi, M., Fuzzi, S., Decesari, S., Cristina Facchini, M., Marullo, S., Santoleri, R., Dell'anno, A., Corinaldesi, C., Tangherlini, M., & Danovaro, R. (2015). Connecting marine productivity to sea-spray via nanoscale biological processes: Phytoplankton Dance or Death Disco? Scientific Reports, 5, -. [14883].