Antarctic new particle formation from continental biogenic precursors
Over Antarctica, aerosol particles originate almost entirely from marine areas, with minor contribution from long-range transported dust or anthropogenic material. The Antarctic continent itself, unlike all other continental areas, has been thought to be practically free of aerosol sources. Here we present evidence of local aerosol production associated with melt-water ponds in continental Antarctica. We show that in air masses passing such ponds, new aerosol particles are efficiently formed and these particles grow up to sizes where they may act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). The precursor vapours responsible for aerosol formation and growth originate very likely from highly abundant cyanobacteria Nostoc commune (Vaucher) communities of local ponds. This is the first time freshwater vegetation has been identified as an aerosol precursor source. The influence of the new source on clouds and climate may increase in future Antarctica, and possibly elsewhere undergoing accelerating summer melting of semi-permanent snow cover.