Changes in dimethyl sulfide oceanic distribution due to climate change

Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is one of the major precursors for aerosols and cloud condensation nuclei in the marine boundary layer over much of the remote ocean. Here we report on coupled climate simulations with a state-of-the-art global ocean biogeochemical model for DMS distribution and fluxes using present-day and future atmospheric CO 2 concentrations. We find changes in zonal averaged DMS flux to the atmosphere of over 150% in the Southern Ocean. This is due to concurrent sea ice changes and ocean ecosystem composition shifts caused by changes in temperature, mixing, nutrient, and light regimes. The largest changes occur in a region already sensitive to climate change, so any resultant local CLAW/Gaia feedback of DMS on clouds, and thus radiative forcing, will be particularly important. A comparison of these results to prior studies shows that increasing model complexity is associated with reduced DMS emissions at the equator and increased emissions at high latitudes.

Cameron-Smith P., Elliott S., Maltrud M., Erickson D., & Wingenter O., 2011. Changes in dimethyl sulfide oceanic distribution due to climate change. Geophysical Research Letters 38:L07704. Article (subscription required).


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