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Organic molecules on a model of sea spray aerosol (Image 3)

A cross section of densely packed, atmospherically relevant, organic molecules on a model

A cross section of densely packed, atmospherically relevant, organic molecules on a model of sea spray aerosol. Pictured are water (blue), sodium ions (green) and organic molecules (magenta and white, where magenta are aliphatic chains and white are phosphate groups).

The arrangement of molecules at the surface of sea spray aerosols influences both the chemical reactivity of those particles (implications include ground level ozone pollution) and the ability of the aerosols to form cloud droplets (implications include precipitation and freshwater shortages). The chemistry of aerosols controls their ability to react and grow into cloud droplets. However, a high level of uncertainty exists in the fundamental understanding of these processes, limiting the ability to predict the impact of aerosols on climate.

This simulation was created by the Paesani Group, which is part of the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE) at the University of California, San Diego. The group is studying the tiny particles of sea spray that are formed by ocean waves. These aerosol particles have very complex chemistry on their surface. This chemistry impacts things like air quality, weather and the formation of clouds, and possibly long-term climate.

The simulation was created with support from CAICE, a National Science Foundation Center for Chemical Innovation (under grant CHE 10-38028). (Date of Image: August 2013) [Image 3 of 4 related images. See Image 4.]

Credit: Paesani Group, University of California, San Diego

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