Hygroscopic and optical properties of organic sea salt aerosol and consequences for climate forcing

C. A. Randles, L. M. Russell, V. Ramaswamy

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106 Scopus citations


Scattering of incoming solar radiation by sea salt aerosol is strongly dependent on relative humidity (RH) since hygroscopic particles take up water at high RH. Organic compounds may constitute up to 50% of marine aerosol mass in internal mixtures. We used a detailed thermodynamic and optical model to calculate hygroscopic growth and extinction of sea salt aerosol internally mixed with a soluble organic compound. Increasing organic content from 10 to 50% suppresses growth at high RH compared to a pure NaCl particle by 4 to 20%. For a mildly absorbing organic, the scattering increase with RH is reduced by up to 32% for these mixtures, consistent with observations. Internal mixtures of 90% NaCl and 10% non-absorbing organics cause 3% less cooling than 100% NaCl particles in the visible spectrum over the clear-sky oceans. For a mildly absorbing organic compound, 10% organic content reduces radiative cooling substantially compared to 100% NaCl aerosol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L16108 1-4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 28 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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