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Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate

Abstract

The major source of cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN) over the oceans appears to be dimethylsulphide, which is produced by planktonic algae in sea water and oxidizes in the atmosphere to form a sulphate aerosol Because the reflectance (albedo) of clouds (and thus the Earth's radiation budget) is sensitive to CCN density, biological regulation of the climate is possible through the effects of temperature and sunlight on phytoplankton population and dimethylsulphide production. To counteract the warming due to doubling of atmospheric CO2, an approximate doubling of CCN would be needed.

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Charlson, R., Lovelock, J., Andreae, M. et al. Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate. Nature 326, 655–661 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1038/326655a0

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