Global analysis of the controls on seawater dimethylsulfide spatial variability

Manville, G, Bell, TG, Mulcahy, JP, Simo, R, Gali, M, Mahajan, AS, Hulswar, S and Halloran, PR 2023 Global analysis of the controls on seawater dimethylsulfide spatial variability. Biogeosciences, 20 (9). 1813-1828.

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Dimethylsulfide (DMS) emitted from the ocean makes a significant global contribution to natural marine aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei and, therefore, our planet’s climate. Oceanic DMS concentrations show large spatiotemporal variability, but observations are sparse, so products describing global DMS distribution rely on interpolation or modelling. Understanding the mechanisms driving DMS variability, especially at local scales, is required to reduce uncertainty in large-scale DMS estimates. We present a study of mesoscale and submesoscale (< 100 km) seawater DMS variability that takes advantage of the recent expansion in high-frequency seawater DMS observations and uses all available data to investigate the typical distances over which DMS varies in all major ocean basins. These DMS spatial variability length scales (VLSs) are uncorrelated with DMS concentrations. The DMS concentrations and VLSs can therefore be used separately to help identify mechanisms underpinning DMS variability. When data are grouped by sampling campaigns, almost 80 % of the DMS VLS can be explained using the VLSs of sea surface height anomalies, density, and chlorophyll a. Our global analysis suggests that both physical and biogeochemical processes play an equally important role in controlling DMS variability, which is in contrast with previous results based on data from the low to mid-latitudes. The explanatory power of sea surface height anomalies indicates the importance of mesoscale eddies in driving DMS variability, previously unrecognised at global scale and in agreement with recent regional studies. DMS VLS differs regionally, including surprisingly high frequency variability in low-latitude waters. Our results independently confirm that relationships used in the literature to parameterise DMS at large scales appear to be considering the right variables. However, regional DMS VLS contrasts highlight that important driving mechanisms remain elusive. The role of submesoscale features should be resolved or accounted for in DMS process models and parameterisations. Future attempts to map DMS distributions should consider the length scale of variability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Biochemistry and Observations
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 18 May 2023 08:22
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 13:00

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