Quantifying the impacts of an updated global dimethyl sulfide climatology on cloud microphysics and aerosol radiative forcing

Mahajan A. S. , Fadnavis S., Thomas M. A. , Pozzoli L., Gupta S., Royer S., ...More

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, vol.120, no.6, pp.2524-2536, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 120 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/2014jd022687
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.2524-2536
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


One of the critical parameters in assessing the global impacts of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) on cloud properties and the radiation budget is the estimation of phytoplankton-induced ocean emissions, which are derived from prescribed, climatological surface seawater DMS concentrations. The most widely used global ocean DMS climatology was published 15 years ago and has recently been updated using a much larger database of observations. The updated climatology displays significant differences in terms of the global distribution and regional monthly averages of sea surface DMS. In this study, we use the ECHAM5-HAMMOZ aerosol-chemistry-climate general circulation model to quantify the influence of the updated DMS climatology in computed atmospheric properties, namely, the spatial and temporal distributions of atmospheric DMS concentration, sulfuric acid concentration, sulfate aerosols, number of activated aerosols, cloud droplet number concentration, and the aerosol radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere. Significant differences are observed for all the modeled variables. Comparison with observations of atmospheric DMS and total sulfate also shows that in places with large DMS emissions, the updated climatology shows a better match with the observations. This highlights the importance of using the updated climatology for projecting future impacts of oceanic DMS emissions, especially considering that the relative importance of the natural sulfur fluxes is likely to increase due to legislation to clean up anthropogenic emissions. The largest estimated differences are in the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, and parts of the Pacific Ocean, where the climatologies differ in seasonal concentrations over large geographical areas. The model results also indicate that the former DMS climatology underestimated the effect of DMS on the globally averaged annual aerosol radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere by about 20%.