DOE funds research into impact of sea salt aerosol particles from sea ice leads on climate

7/19/2022 7:57:18 AM

Hannah Horowitz
Hannah Horowitz

A new research project funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) will examine the impacts of sea salt aerosol particles emitted from cracks in sea ice (“leads”) on climate. CEE assistant professor Hannah Horowitz leads the project, which is one of 22 that received an award from a $14 million DOE program.

Air particles containing sea salt from the ocean make up a significant portion of total aerosols in the Arctic, which in turn can alter the surface energy balance and climate in Polar Regions. Horowitz will assess the impacts of sea salt aerosol emissions from sea ice leads on Arctic aerosols, clouds and radiation, and improve climate models by incorporating sea salt aerosol emissions from leads.

“The Arctic's climate is changing more rapidly than any other region on Earth,” Horowitz said. “Sea salt particles emitted from sea ice leads are not currently represented in the models we use to predict future climate change. These particles can alter clouds and how much heat is trapped at the surface. As sea ice leads increase in frequency due to a warming climate, there may be feedbacks in the Earth system that have not previously been investigated.“

The three-year project, “Improving the Representation of Arctic Sea Salt Aerosols in Climate Models Using Observations from Field Campaigns and Remote Sensing,” is funded under the Atmospheric System Research program, sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, within the DOE’s Office of Science.