Laboratory-generated primary marine aerosol via bubble-bursting and atomization

Elena Fuentes Lopez, H. Coe, G. McFiggans, G. De Leeuw, D. Green

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    A range of bubble and sea spray aerosol generators has been tested in the laboratory and compared with oceanic measurements from the literature. We have shown that the method of generation has a significant influence on the properties of the aerosol particles produced. Hence, the validity of a generation system to mimic atmospheric aerosol is dependent on its capacity for generating bubbles and particles in a realistic manner. A bubble-bursting aerosol generator which produces bubbles by water impingement was shown to best reproduce the oceanic bubble spectral shapes, which confirms previous findings. Two porous bubblers and a plunging-water jet system were tested as bubble-bursting aerosol generators for comparison with a standard nebulizer. The methods for aerosol production were evaluated by analysing the bubble spectrum generated by the bubble-bursting systems and the submicron size distribution, hygroscopicity and cloud condensation nucleus activity of the aerosols generated by the different techniques. Significant differences in the bubble spectrum and aerosol properties were observed when using different aerosol generators. The aerosols generated by the different methods exhibited similar hygroscopicity and cloud condensation nucleus activity behaviour when a sample of purely inorganic salts was used as a parent seawater solution; however, significant differences in the aerosol properties were found when using samples of filtered natural seawater enriched with biogenic organics. The presence of organics in the aerosol caused suppression of the growth factor at humidities above 75% RH and an increase in the critical supersaturation with respect to the generation from artificial seawater devoid of organics. The extent of the effect of organics on the aerosol properties varied depending on the method of particle production. The results of this work indicate that the aerosol generation mechanism affects the particles organic enrichment, thus the behaviour of the produced aerosols strongly depends on the laboratory aerosol generator employed. Comparison between bubble lifetimes in several laboratory simulations and the oceanic conditions indicated that it would require a considerable extension of the dimensions of the currently used bubble-bursting laboratory systems in order to replicate the characteristic oceanic bubble lifetimes. We analyzed the implications derived from the reduced bubble residence times in scaled systems, regarding marine surfactants adsorption on rising bubbles, and found that adsorption equilibrium is reached on a timescale much shorter than the bubble lifetime in small-scale laboratory generators. This implies that adsorption of marine surface-active material is not limited by surfactant transport to the bubble surface.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-162
    Number of pages21
    JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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