Open ocean and coastal new particle formation from sulfuric acid and amines around the Antarctic Peninsula

James Brean, Manuel Dall’Osto, Rafel Simó, Zongbo Shi, David C.S. Beddows, Roy M. Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

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New particle formation is globally one of the major sources of aerosol particles and cloud condensation nuclei. As primary emissions are a minor contributor to particle concentrations, secondary new particle formation processes are probably key in determining Antarctic aerosol number concentrations. However, our knowledge of new particle formation and its mechanisms in Antarctica is very limited. Here we study summertime open ocean and coastal new particle formation in the Antarctic Peninsula region based on both ship and station measurements. The rates of particle formation relative to sulfuric acid concentrations, as well as the sulfuric acid dimer-to-monomer ratios, were similar to those seen for sulfuric acid–dimethylamine–water nucleation. Numerous sulfuric acid–amine peaks were identified during new particle formation events, providing evidence that alkylamines were the bases that facilitated sulfuric acid nucleation. Most new particle formation events occurred in air masses arriving from the ice-covered Weddell Sea and its marginal ice zone, which are an important source of volatile sulfur and alkylamines. This nucleation mechanism is more efficient than the ion-induced sulfuric acid–ammonia pathway previously observed in Antarctica, and one that can occur rapidly under neutral conditions. This hitherto overlooked pathway to biologically driven aerosol formation should be considered for estimating aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei numbers in ocean–sea ice–aerosols–climate feedback models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number6
Early online date13 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Spanish Armada, and particularly the captains and crew of the BIO A-33 Hesperides, for their invaluable collaboration. We are also indebted to the UTM, and especially M. Ojeda, for logistic and technical support on the Antarctic Spanish BAE JC1. We also thank A. Sotomayor for help with mapping. This study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy (grant number PI‐ICE‐CTM 2017–89117‐R and RYC-2012-11922, both awarded to M.D.’O.). This work was also supported by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (grant number R8/H12/83/011 to R.M.H. and D.C.S.B., which also supported a studentship (ncasstu009) for J.B.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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