National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2016

Multiyear study of the dependence of sea salt aerosol on wind speed and sea ice conditions in the coastal Arctic

May, N.W., P.K. Quinn, S.M. McNamara, and K.A. Pratt

J. Geophys. Res., 121(15), 9208–9219, doi: 10.1002/2016JD025273 (2016)

Thinning of Arctic sea ice gives rise to ice fracturing and leads (areas of open water surrounded by sea ice) that are a potential source of sea salt aerosol. Atmospheric particle inorganic ion concentrations, local sea ice conditions, and meteorology at Barrow, AK, from 2006 to 2009, were combined to investigate the dependence of submicron (aerodynamic diameter < 1 µm) and supermicron (aerodynamic diameter 1–10 µm) sea salt mass concentrations on sea ice coverage and wind speed. Consistent with a wind-dependent source, supermicron sea salt mass concentrations increased in the presence of nearby leads and wind speeds greater than 4 m s−1. Increased supermicron and submicron sea salt chloride depletion was observed for periods of low winds or a lack of nearby open water, consistent with transported sea salt influence. Sea salt aerosol produced from leads has the potential to alter cloud formation, as well as the chemical composition of the Arctic atmosphere and snowpack.

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