The air we breathe contains oxygen, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide, as well as small amounts of organic gases such as benzene and toluene. These oxidize into small particles or aerosols that contribute to the condensation of water within droplets forming clouds. Currently, research by the Institut de Cièncias del Mar (ICM-CSIC), the Instituto de Química Física Rocasolano (IQFR-CSIC), and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is focused on understanding the past through clouds filtering solar radiation. Importance is emphasized. and future climate change.
“If the clouds are not handled well, the climate will not be handled well,” said Charel Wohl, an ICM-CSIC researcher and lead author of the study. “We are just beginning to identify the multiple components that form the cloud seeds,” he adds.
Works published in magazines scientific progress, describe the first measurements of benzene and toluene in polar waters and show that these compounds have a biological origin. Until now, their presence in the polar oceanic atmosphere was thought to be evidence of the extent of human contamination by, among other things, the burning of coal or oil or the use of solvents.
the only way to know how atmospheric composition was regulated before the serious changes caused by human activity Research in the industrial age is to study areas where the air is still clean, such as the polar regions.
To conduct this study, the team measured concentrations of benzene and toluene. surface water It will air over the course of two oceanic campaigns. One is the Arctic Ocean and the other is the Southern Ocean. The distribution of these gases, their relationship to phytoplankton abundance, and the fact that the ocean constantly releases them into the atmosphere rather than capturing them from the atmosphere, researchers believe they are of biological origin. I concluded.
Then, by incorporating the data into global atmospheric chemistry and climate models, the scientific team realized that benzene and toluene released from the ocean contributed significantly to aerosol formation. This was especially true in the extremely clean and unpolluted atmosphere of the Southern Ocean, where these two gases increased the abundance of organic aerosols by 8% and up to 80% in transient situations.
According to the authors of the paper, the natural effects of marine benzene and toluene on atmospheric chemicals were most likely a widespread and global phenomenon before the Industrial Revolution. It will be masked by the influence of the
in any case “climate model need to consider benzene If you want clouds to be correct in both past and future climate projections, consider toluene emissions from the ocean,” says Alfonso, an IQFR-CSIC researcher and head of the atmospheric modeling portion of the study. Saiz-López said.
ICM-CSIC researcher and study co-author Rafel Simó added: Adapted to the climate, but helped to adjust it. ”
In the future, the team plans to further study the impact of marine microscopic organisms on the atmosphere. In fact, they will be back in Antarctic waters in just two weeks to confirm their findings and make more measurements.
For more information:
Charel Wohl et al, Marine biogenic emissions of benzene and toluene and their contribution to secondary organic aerosols in polar waters, scientific progress (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.add9031
Provided by Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC)
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