Dimethylsulphide production in the subantarctic southern ocean under enhanced greenhouse conditions

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Gabric, Albert J. ; Whetton, Peter H. ; Cropp, Roger (2001)

Dimethylsulphide (DMS) is an important sulphur-containing trace gas produced by enzymatic cleavage of its precursor compound, dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), which is released by marine phytoplankton in the upper ocean. After ventilation to the atmosphere, DMS is oxidised to form sulphate aerosols which in the unpolluted marine atmosphere are a major source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Because the micro-physical properties of clouds relevant to climate change are sensitive to CCN concentration in air, it has been postulated that marine sulphur emissions may play a rôle in climate regulation. The Subantarctic Southern Ocean (41–53°S) is relatively free of anthropogenic sulphur emissions, thus sulphate aerosols will be mainly derived from the biogenic source of DMS, making it an ideal region in which to evaluate the DMS-climate regulation hypothesis. We have extended a previous modelling analysis of the DMS cycle in this region by employing a coupled general circulation model (CGCM) which has been run in transient mode to provide a more realistic climate scenario. The CGCM output provided meteorological data under the IPCC/IS92a radiative forcing scenario. A DMS production model has been forced with the CGCM climate data to simulate the trend in the sea-to-air DMS flux for the period 1960 to 2080, corresponding to equivalent CO2 tripling relative to pre-industrial levels. The results confirm a minor but non-negligible increase in DMS flux in this region, in the range +1% to +6% predicted over the period simulated. Uncertainty analysis of the DMS model predictions have confirmed the positive sign for the change in DMS flux, that is a negative DMS feedback on warming.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.2001.01244.x
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