21 December 2018

Does Marine Surface Tension Have Global Biogeography?

Addition for the OCEANFILMS package.


Our group had previously shown that global marine systems modeling of surfactant distributions could inform primary organic aerosol emissions, through the link to adsorption on breaking bubbles (wave driven). Here the concepts are extended to surface tension and the entire ocean-atmosphere interface. The tension quantity is regulated by the same set of organic macromolecules emanating from food web cycling of detrital carbon, and there are regional influences upon energy, gas and spray fluxes.


Biogeochemical control of surface tension translates directly to biological modulation of most climate-relevant fluxes, e.g. those of momentum, heat, water vapor, carbon dioxide, salt etc.


We conclude that regional surface tension gradients are sufficient to alter all the above flows significantly at the regional to basin scale, and will now proceed in the next round of publications to quantify all effects. Technical issues include our choice of surrogate macromolecules for representation of the local interfacial behaviors, physical-chemical issues such as temperature-salt-acidity dependency for the same, reductions to the roughness length per unit of surface “pressure” defined as lowering of the tension, and parameterization of the influence on bubble marginal regeneration.

Scott Elliott
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Elliott, S, S Burrows, P Cameron-Smith, F Hoffman, E Hunke, N Jeffery, Y Liu, et al.  2018.  "Does Marine Surface Tension Have Global Biogeography? Addition for the OCEANFILMS Package."  Atmosphere 9(6): 216.  https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9060216.