The spatial and temporal distribution of oceanic dimethylsulfide and its effects on atmospheric composition and aerosol forcing

Date

2014-09-12

Authors

Tesdal, Jan-Erik

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Abstract

The ocean emission and subsequent oxidation of dimethylsulfide (DMS) provides a source of sulfate in the atmosphere, potentially affecting the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface through both direct and indirect radiative effects of sulfate aerosols. DMS in the ocean can be quite variable with season and location, which in turn leads to high spatial and temporal variability of ocean DMS emissions. This study tested currently available observational and empirically-based climatologies of DMS concentration in the surface ocean. The exploration of the existing parameterizations mainly reveals the limitations of estimating DMS with an empirical model based on variables such as chlorophyll and mixed layer depth. The different algorithms show significant differences in spatial pattern, and none correlate strongly with observations. There is considerable uncertainty both in terms of the spatiotemporal distribution in DMS concentration and flux, as well as in the global total DMS flux. The present research investigates the influence of DMS on sulfate aerosols and radiative fluxes given different DMS climatologies in the fourth generation of the Canadian Global Atmospheric Climate Model (CanAM4.1). In general, the response in the radiative flux seems to follow the variation in the global mean flux of DMS linearly. Differences in the spatial and temporal structure of oceanic DMS have only a secondary effect on the radiative changes. The overall response of the atmosphere to the presence or absence of structure of DMS in space and time is distinctly smaller compared to the possible uncertainty of this response associated with the magnitude of the annually averaged global flux.

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Keywords

dimethylsulfide, DMS, biogeochemistry, aerosol forcing, oceanography, atmospheric modelling, ocean/atmosphere interactions, sulfur cycling

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