Cartoon schematic of Arctic Ocean air/surface interactions

The Grannas Research Group at Villanova is currently funded by the National Science Foundation to study Arctic air/surface interactions. This is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Villanova University.

The Arctic has experienced dramatic sea ice loss and increasing surface temperatures. These changes affect air-sea exchange processes, not solely due to larger areas of open water, but also in areas of increasingly broken sea-ice. These changes impact ocean microbiology, which in turn influences atmospheric composition. The team will examine the potential for changes in the atmospheric composition to impact cloud formation, properties, and precipitation, which subsequently affect climate. 

During the joint U.S.-Sweden cruise of the Icebreaker Oden (2018), experiments were conducted to better understand the physical properties and chemical makeup of marine aerosols produced from Arctic seawater. Using seawater collected under several combinations of sea ice and open water conditions, controlled atmospheric aerosol generation experiments were conducted aboard the Oden. The biology and chemistry of seawater were sampled during the cruise and compared to the composition of measured aerosols in the ambient air, as well as those generated from seawater on the ship. Measurements focused on individual aerosol particle properties, organic compound molecular composition, and microbiology. Once our sample analysis has been completed, specific links between seawater microbiology and aerosol composition, morphology, and water uptake will be described. The nature of marine aerosol sources will be defined and quantified for use in climate models to improve understanding of Arctic ocean-atmosphere connections. 

The project will result in an unprecedented level of understanding of Arctic marine aerosol production and links to seawater microbiology. This will lead to improved predictions of Arctic aerosol composition and clouds for the rapidly changing Arctic system.