Sea spray fluxes from the southwest coast of the United Kingdom – dependence on wind speed and wave height

Yang, Mingxi; Norris, Sarah J.; Bell, Thomas G.; Brooks, Ian M.

Fluxes of sea spray aerosols were measured with the eddy covariance technique from the Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory (PPAO) on the southwest coast of the United Kingdom over several months from 2015 to 2017. Two different fast-responding aerosol instruments were employed: an ultra-fine condensation particle counter (CPC) that detects aerosols with a radius above ca. 1.5 nm and a compact lightweight aerosol spectrometer probe (CLASP) that provides a size distribution between ca. 0.1 and 6 inline-formulaµm. The measured sea spray emission fluxes essentially all originated from the shallow waters upwind, rather than from the surf zone/shore break. Fluxes from the CPC and from the CLASP (integrated over all sizes) were generally comparable, implying a reasonable closure in the aerosol number flux. Compared to most previous observations over the open ocean, at the same wind speed the mean sea spray number fluxes at PPAO are much greater. Significant wave height and wave Reynolds numbers explain more variability in sea spray fluxes than wind speed does, implying that enhanced wave breaking resulting from shoaling in shallow coastal waters is a dominant control on sea spray emission. Comparisons between two different wind sectors (open water vs. fetch-limited Plymouth Sound) and between two sets of sea states (growing vs. falling seas) further confirm the importance of wave characteristics on sea spray fluxes. These results suggest that spatial variability in wave characteristics need to be taken into account in predictions of coastal sea spray productions and also aerosol loading.

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Yang, Mingxi / Norris, Sarah J. / Bell, Thomas G. / et al: Sea spray fluxes from the southwest coast of the United Kingdom – dependence on wind speed and wave height. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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