The case against climate regulation via oceanic phytoplankton sulphur emissions

  title={The case against climate regulation via oceanic phytoplankton sulphur emissions},
  author={Patricia K. Quinn and Timothy S. Bates},
More than twenty years ago, a biological regulation of climate was proposed whereby emissions of dimethyl sulphide from oceanic phytoplankton resulted in the formation of aerosol particles that acted as cloud condensation nuclei in the marine boundary layer. In this hypothesis—referred to as CLAW—the increase in cloud condensation nuclei led to an increase in cloud albedo with the resulting changes in temperature and radiation initiating a climate feedback altering dimethyl sulphide emissions… 

Figures from this paper

Commentary regarding “Simulated perturbation in the sea-to-air flux of dimethylsulfide and the impact on polar climate”
  • Guipeng Yang
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of Oceanology and Limnology
  • 2021
The anthropogenic contribution to cloud condensation nuclei is known to be large due to pollutant emissions. However, the natural processes that regulate cloud condensation nuclei over many regions
Eco-chemical mechanisms govern phytoplankton emissions of dimethylsulfide in global surface waters
This study presents field observations from 100 freshwater lakes, in concert with data of global ocean DMS emissions, showing that DMS and algal biomass show a hump-shaped relationship, i.e. emissions to the atmosphere increase up to a pH of about 8.1 but, at higher pH, DMS concentrations decline, likely mainly due to decomposition.
Sensitivity of cloud condensation nuclei to regional changes in dimethyl-sulphide emissions
Abstract. The atmospheric oxidation of dimethyl-sulphide (DMS) derived from marine phytoplankton is a significant source of marine sulphate aerosol. DMS has been proposed to regulate climate via
Butene Emissions From Coastal Ecosystems May Contribute to New Particle Formation
Marine ecosystems are important drivers of the global climate system. They emit volatile species into the atmosphere, involved in complex reaction cycles that influence the lifetime of greenhouse
Marine Aerosols and Clouds.
Understanding the formation of marine aerosols and their propensity to catalyze cloud formation processes are challenges that must be addressed given the major uncertainties associated with aerosols in climate models.
Impacts of Shifts in Phytoplankton Community on Clouds and Climate via the Sulfur Cycle
Dimethyl sulfide (DMS), primarily produced by marine organisms, contributes significantly to sulfate aerosol loading over the ocean after being oxidized in the atmosphere. In addition to exerting a
The Reef Sulphur Cycle: Influence on Climate and Ecosystem Services
Research in the western Pacific over the last 15 years has shown that hard corals contain exceptionally high concentrations of a sulphur substance called dimethylsulphoniopropionate or DMSP which can
Simulated perturbation in the sea-to-air flux of dimethylsulfide and the impact on polar climate
Marine biogenic emission of dimethylsulfide (DMS) has been well recognized as the main natural source of reduced sulfur to the remote marine atmosphere and has the potential to affect climate,
Impact of Arctic meltdown on the microbial cycling of sulphur
Preliminary observations, together with model results, suggest that the production and emission of dimethylsulphide will increase in the Arctic as seasonal sea-ice cover recedes, which could potentially cool the Arctic climate.
The complex response of Arctic aerosol to sea-ice retreat
Abstract. Loss of summertime Arctic sea ice will lead to a large increase in the emission of aerosols and precursor gases from the ocean surface. It has been suggested that these enhanced emissions


Atmospheric sulphur and cloud condensation nuclei in marine air in the Southern Hemisphere
Measurements of atmospheric sulphur species made in Southern Ocean air, at the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, are reviewed in an attempt to discern the role played by oceanic emissions of
Seasonal relationship between cloud condensation nuclei and aerosol methanesulphonate in marine air
CHARLSON,et al.1 have suggested that cloud-droplet concentrations in remote marine regions might be indirectly controlled by dimethylsulphide (DMS) emissions from marine phytoplankton. Attempts to
A review of natural aerosol interactions and feedbacks within the Earth system
Abstract. The natural environment is a major source of atmospheric aerosols, including dust, secondary organic material from terrestrial biogenic emissions, carbonaceous particles from wildfires, and
Source and evolution of the marine aerosol—A new perspective
The “indirect effect of aerosols” refers to their ability to influence cloud radiative properties, and is considered to be one of the larger uncertainties in climate prediction. Oceans cover about
Climate sensitivity to ocean dimethylsulphide emissions
The production of dimethylsulphide (DMS) by ocean phytoplankton is hypothesized to form part of a feedback process on global climate. Changes in the DMS flux to the atmosphere cause changes to
Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate
The major source of cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN) over the oceans appears to be dimethylsulphide, which is produced by planktonic algae in sea water and oxidizes in the atmosphere to form a
Weak response of oceanic dimethylsulfide to upper mixing shoaling induced by global warming
It is suggested that the “plankton–DMS–clouds–earth albedo feedback” hypothesis is less strong a long-term thermostatic system than a seasonal mechanism that contributes to regulate the solar radiation doses reaching the earth's biosphere.
Influence of sea-salt on aerosol radiative properties in the Southern Ocean marine boundary layer
There has been considerable debate about the relative importance of sea-salt and sulphate from non-sea-salt sources in determining aerosol radiative effects in the marine boundary layer. In the
Biogenic sulfur emissions and aerosols over the tropical South Atlantic: 3. Atmospheric dimethylsulfide, aerosols and cloud condensation nuclei
We measured dimethylsulfide in air (DMSa) and the number concentration, size distribution, and chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols, including the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei
Effect on global warming of wind-dependent aerosol generation at the ocean surface
CONSIDERABLE effort is being devoted1,2 to elucidating the influence of clouds on climate, and in particular to assessing the influence on global warming of modifications to cloud cover or