Theme 4: Interconnections between aerosols, clouds, and marine ecosystems


At any given moment, clouds cover more than half of the sky and are responsible for about 2/3 of the Earth’s albedo. Clouds are also a key component of the water cycle. Any change in cloud properties can affect the Earth’s energy budget, as well as amounts of fresh water over the continents. Oceans represent an important source of aerosols, especially in remote regions. Theme 4 focuses on the interconnections between aerosols, clouds, and marine ecosystems, with the overall goal of reducing the related climate uncertainties.

files/solas-int/content/downloads/Resources/Figures & Conceptual Diagrams/Theme 4.gifFigure 4: Ocean sources of atmospheric primary and secondary aerosol and subsequent atmospheric processing. Also shown are aerosol direct and indirect radiative impacts.

Theme 4 Team

Team leader:
Maurice Levasseur (Canada,

Team members:
Maria Cristina Facchini (Italy,
Ilan Koren (Israel,

Research questions

Key questions to be addressed within this theme are:

  • How are aerosol load and properties linked to the marine ecosystem?
  • How do aerosols affect marine clouds?
  • What are the feedbacks between clouds and the marine ecosystem?


Biological and environmental drivers
Conduct combined measurements of surface ocean plankton taxonomy/ecophysiology/bloom dynamics, surface concentrations of aerosol precursors and aerosol characteristics to constrain and model the biological and environmental drivers of biogenic aerosol emission.

Surface microlayer
Assess the chemical and biological properties of the ocean surface microlayer; determine how they compare with the properties of the ocean upper mixed layer, and how they relate to aerosol properties, thermodynamic profiles and cloud properties.

Time Series Stations
Initiate (or join) a SOLAS Time Series Station in order to better assess short-term (through phytoplankton bloom phases) and long-term (through seasons and years) variations in primary and secondary aerosols ocean production/emission and their impacts on atmospheric chemistry and cloud properties. Provide access to the collected data via links on the SOLAS website.

Ocean-derived aerosol effects
Acquire high-quality and high-resolution measurements of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the surface ocean mixed layer and of the atmospheric marine boundary layer to decouple ocean-derived aerosol effects on marine clouds from physical effects. This involves the development of techniques for the identification of the most important players among marine secondary aerosols precursors (beyond dimethyl sulfide, isoprene and iodine) and the determination of their sources, volatility, and aerosol yields (amines and semi-volatile hydrocarbons could be target candidates). It also involves techniques that allow for counting and characterising nascent ultra-small aerosols to better assess the frequency and mechanisms of particle nucleation in the marine boundary layer.

Remote sensing
Connect with the marine aerosol community to develop new remote sensing platforms, drones, and sensors, as well as inform the community of remote sensing potentials.

Cloud microphysics
Acquire high-resolution numerical models to integrate cloud microphysics into small-scale process dynamics.

Planned activities

Workshop on The Interconnections between aerosols, clouds, and marine ecosystems in contrasting environments
Several large national and international research programs have been initiated during the last five years in order to improve our understanding of the complex and highly dynamical interconnections between aerosols, clouds, and marine ecosystems (e.g. NAAMES, NETCARE SOAP, ACE, MarParCloud, R2R, PEACETIME, and Tara Pacific). These interconnections were investigated in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, the Southern ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and coral reefs regions. The number and size of these programs illustrate the dynamical nature of this field of research. Participants to these different programs as well as all interested researchers working on this topic are invited to attend this workshop in order to share and compare their findings with the purpose to cross-fertilize between these programs and contribute to a community paper.
Location: Roma, Italy
Dates: 28 - 29 November, 2018
Chairs: Emmanuel Boss, Ilan Koren, Maurice Levasseur

- last update April 2018 -