CAICE researchers are tackling our understanding of production mechanisms and chemical composition of sea spray aerosol using combined and integrated top down and bottom up approaches. By carefully studying the composition of seawater and sea spray aerosols, we can learn more about how these particles are produced and molecular-scale characteristics of their interfaces, which are key for understanding reactivity (Research Theme 2) and their ability to interact with water in the atmosphere (Research Theme 3).
Research Theme 2, Chemical Reactions at Complex Interfaces, is focused on advancing our understanding of the critical dependence of chemical reactions and mechanisms on the molecular scale properties of complex environmental surfaces. It has been hypothesized that the rates of of heterogeneous and multiphase reactions occurring at complex environmental interfaces (e.g., sea spray aerosol) are tied to the molecular-scale physical and chemical properties of the interface. RT2 leverages extensive investigation of the composition and morphology of environmental interfaces uncovered in CAICE to explore a host of chemical and biological processes occurring at atmospheric interfaces.
Aerosols influence Earth’s climate in two major ways: (1) by directly scattering light back to space (cooling the climate) or absorbing solar radiation (warming the climate), and (2) by serving as the seeds for both liquid cloud droplets and ice crystals. CAICE is studying the chemistry that is fundamental to these processes, including the behavior of salt/organic mixtures, and working to both observe and simulate the process of heterogeneous ice nucleation, so that it can be reliably predicted.