Atmospheric Sea Spray Modeling in the North-East Atlantic Ocean using Tunnel-Derived Generation Functions and the SUMOS Cruise Data set

This study contributes to the communal effort to improve understanding of sea spray generation and transport. For the first time, laboratory-derived sea spray generation functions (SSGFs) are parameterized in the Meso-NH mesoscale atmospheric model and are field tested. Formulated from the MATE19 laboratory experiments (Bruch et al., 2021, the two SSGFs are driven by the upwind component of the wave-slope variance (herein B21A), or both and the wind friction velocity cubed (herein B21B). In this first attempt to incorporate the SSGFs in Meso-NH, the simulations are run without a wave model, and the wave-wind SSGFs are assumed wind-dependent. Model evaluation is achieved with a new set of sea spray and meteorological measurements acquired over the 0.1–22.75 μm radius range and U10 1–20 m s−1 wind speeds onboard R/V Atalante during the 25 day SUMOS field campaign in the Bay of Biscay. The B21B SSGF offers particularly good sensitivity to a wide range of environmental conditions over the size range, with an average overestimation by a factor 1.5 compared with measurements, well below the deviations reported elsewhere. B21A also performs well for larger droplets at wind speeds above 15 m s−1. Associated with airflow separation and wave breaking, wave-slope variance allows to represent multiple wave scales and to scale sea spray generation in the laboratory and the field. Using Meso-NH simulations we find that sea spray may be transported inland and to altitudes well above the marine atmospheric boundary layer.

Key Points

With comparable wave-slope variance behavior in laboratory and field conditions we use laboratory-derived sea spray generation functions in the field

Parameterized with laboratory generation functions and validated using field measurements, Meso-NH yields accurate sea spray concentrations

By populating the atmosphere beyond 2.5 km altitude and 100 km inland, sea spray can intervene in a range of weather and cimate processes

Plain Language Summary

The effects of sea spray on weather and climate remain poorly understood as a result of sparse measurements and large uncertainties in the generation flux. With the aim of improving sea spray transport in atmospheric models, two sea spray generation functions derived from the MATE19 laboratory campaign are parameterized in the Meso-NH mesoscale atmospheric model. The simulations are run over the Bay of Biscay in February–March 2021, and are compared with super-micron sea spray concentrations measured during the SUMOS field campaign. Results show that the laboratory-derived generation functions allow accurate predictions of sea spray concentrations. Furthermore, simulations show that sea spray droplets can be transported far over land, and high into the atmosphere, highlighting their availability to contribute to a wide range of atmospheric processes.


sea spray, marine atmospheric boundary layer, atmospheric modeling, wave-slope variance, field measurements, laboratory measurements

Full Text

Preprint - 10.22541/essoar.167689973.33141884/v1
353 Mo
Publisher's official version
333 Mo
How to cite
Bruch WIlliam, Yohia C, Tulet P, Limoges A, Sutherland Peter, Van Eijk A M J, Missamou T, Piazzola J (2023). Atmospheric Sea Spray Modeling in the North-East Atlantic Ocean using Tunnel-Derived Generation Functions and the SUMOS Cruise Data set. Journal Of Geophysical Research-atmospheres. 128 (15). e2022JD038330 (23p.).,

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