Environmental chemistry

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sea spray aerosol (SSA) are an important way through which oceans can influence the atmosphere’s radiative properties. Here, the authors present measurements taken over a 42,000 km ship cruise in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean and show that SSA number concentrations vary over a 24-hour cycle, possibly linked to surface water bubble-bursting dynamics.

    • J. Michel Flores
    • , Guillaume Bourdin
    •  & Ilan Koren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nowhere is biomass burning more abundant than on the African continent, but the biogeochemical impacts on forests are poorly understood. Here the authors show that biomass burning leads to high phosphorus deposition in the Congo basin, which scales with forest age as a result of increasing canopy complexity.

    • Marijn Bauters
    • , Travis W. Drake
    •  & Pascal Boeckx
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plastics are major marine pollutants, and while research suggests that they can release potential harmful additives into seawater, how environmental conditions influence this is unknown. Here the authors determine that byproducts released from microplastics are less under deep-sea conditions versus surface.

    • Vincent Fauvelle
    • , Marc Garel
    •  & Richard Sempéré
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reactions at the interface between mineral surfaces and flowing liquids are ubiquitous in nature. Here the authors explore, using surface-specific sum frequency generation spectroscopy and numeric calculations, how the liquid flow affects the charging and dissolution rates leading to flow-dependent charge gradients along the surface.

    • Patrick Ober
    • , Willem Q. Boon
    •  & Mischa Bonn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The middle of the Gulf of Mexico is stratified and highly oligotrophic, yet there are anomalously high fluxes of sinking particulate matter from the euphotic zone. Here the authors show that lateral advection of organic matter supports nitrogen export in the Gulf of Mexico’s open ocean.

    • Thomas B. Kelly
    • , Angela N. Knapp
    •  & Michael R. Stukel
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Water scarcity is a rapidly spreading global challenge but water purification technologies are often not sustainable. Here, the authors review the research on water purification technologies based on protein nanofibrils as a green and affordable solution to alleviate a water crisis.

    • Mohammad Peydayesh
    •  & Raffaele Mezzenga
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The macroalgae Sargassum has grown for centuries in the oligotrophic North Atlantic supported by natural nutrient sources and cycling. Here the authors show that changes in tissue nutrient contents since the 1980s reflect global anthropogenic nitrogen enrichment, causing blooms in the wider Atlantic basin.

    • B. E. Lapointe
    • , R. A. Brewton
    •  & P. L. Morton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Expanded phosphorus availability possibly triggered a marine bioproduction boom after 2.3 billion years ago, but its delivery mechanisms remain unclear. Here we propose a kaolinite shuttle which efficiently adsorbs phosphorus in continental weathering settings and releases it under marine conditions.

    • Weiduo Hao
    • , Kaarel Mänd
    •  & Kurt O. Konhauser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Radioactive 137Cs is a fission product remaining in the environment from mid-20th century nuclear testing. Here the authors show that vegetation thousands of kilometers from testing sites continues to cycle 137Cs, and consequently, bees magnify this contaminant in honey in regions with low soil potassium.

    • J. M. Kaste
    • , P. Volante
    •  & A. J. Elmore
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study proposes a method to differentiate between local plutonium-based contamination in soils versus trace plutonium stemming from global dispersion in the past, such as fallout from detonation and atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

    • Chris Tighe
    • , Maxi Castrillejo
    •  & Malcolm J. Joyce
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sunlight can change the composition of atmospheric aerosol particles, but the mechanisms through which this happens are not well known. Here, the authors show that fast radical reaction and slow diffusion near viscous organic particle surfaces can cause oxygen depletion, radical trapping and humidity dependent oxidation.

    • Peter A. Alpert
    • , Jing Dou
    •  & Markus Ammann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impacts of a melting Arctic on the biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems are unknown. Here, the authors investigate glacial input of iron to Svalbard fjords finding that reworking of glacial iron in fjord sediment is important to make iron bioavailable, but could be susceptible to glacial retreat.

    • Katja Laufer-Meiser
    • , Alexander B. Michaud
    •  & Bo Barker Jørgensen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Oxidation of volatile organic compounds leads to aerosol formation in the atmosphere, but the mechanism of some fast reactions is still unclear. The authors, using quantum chemical modelling and experiments, reveal that in key monoterpenes the cyclobutyl ring that would hinder the reactivity is broken in the early exothermic steps of the reaction.

    • Siddharth Iyer
    • , Matti P. Rissanen
    •  & Theo Kurtén
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biological fate of nanomaterials in organisms is an important topic, however, limitations of analytical techniques has hampered understanding. Here, the authors report on a study into the fate of model, gold nanoparticles in an aquatic food chain using an analytical workflow and range of analytical methods.

    • Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh
    • , Latifeh Chupani
    •  & Willie J.G.M. Peijnenburg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soil organic matter (SOM) is a huge sink of carbon, but the varied flux dynamics are challenging to predict. Here, the authors present a new model with the complexities of SOM cycling, including parameters for substrate accessibility, microbe diversity, and enzymatic substrate depolymerization.

    • Julien Sainte-Marie
    • , Matthieu Barrandon
    •  & Delphine Derrien
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microplastics have spread across the globe and reached even the most remote locations, but an understanding of their origins remains largely elusive. Here the authors quantify and characterise microplastics across the North Pole, finding that synthetic fibers like polyester are dominant and likely sourced from the Atlantic Ocean.

    • Peter S. Ross
    • , Stephen Chastain
    •  & Bill Williams
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Burial of organic material in marine sediments can sequester massive amounts of carbon, but the dynamics of this carbon sink are poorly understood. Here the authors investigate the so-called rusty carbon sink in Arctic shelf sediments, finding that organic carbon-iron associations are stable for 1000 s of years.

    • Johan C. Faust
    • , Allyson Tessin
    •  & Christian März
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study investigates in the importance of non-fossil fuel NOx emissions in the surface-earth-nitrogen cycle. The study shows how changes of regional human activities directly influence δ15N signatures of deposited NOx to terrestrial environments and that emissions have largely been underestimated.

    • Wei Song
    • , Xue-Yan Liu
    •  & Cong-Qiang Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Groundwater discharge is a mechanism that transports chemicals from inland systems to the ocean, but it has been considered of secondary influence compared to rivers. Here the authors assess the global significance of groundwater discharge, finding that it has a unique and important contribution to ocean chemistry and Earth-system models.

    • Kimberley K. Mayfield
    • , Anton Eisenhauer
    •  & Adina Paytan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Metal-organic framework adsorbents are promising materials for gas separation and purification. Herein, the authors present a metal-organic framework that selectively captures CO2 over small hydrocarbons; this separation is relevant for the purification of natural gas and industrial feedstocks.

    • Omid T. Qazvini
    • , Ravichandar Babarao
    •  & Shane G. Telfer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Electrocatalytic processes are promising for automated and scalable synthesis of singlet oxygen, but they are energy- and chemical-intensive. Here the authors present a Janus electrocatalytic membrane that selectively produces singlet oxygen with low energy consumption and free of chemical precursors.

    • Yumeng Zhao
    • , Meng Sun
    •  & Menachem Elimelech
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Historically it has been maintained that soil organic carbon (SOC) is stabilized through interactions with mineral interfaces. Here the authors use cryo-electron microscopy and spectroscopy to show that SOC interactions can also occur between organic forms in patchy, disordered structure.

    • Angela R. Possinger
    • , Michael J. Zachman
    •  & Johannes Lehmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dust deposition brings iron that fuels ocean productivity, a connection impacting climate over geological time. Here the authors use sediment cores to show that in contrast to dynamics today, during the last glacial maximum westerly winds shuttled dust from Australia and South America around Antarctica and into the South Pacific.

    • Torben Struve
    • , Katharina Pahnke
    •  & Gisela Winckler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The early Eocene was characterized by exceptionally high global temperatures and no polar ice. Here, clumped isotope paleothermometry of glendonite calcite from the Danish Basin shows that these were formed in waters below 5 °C, indicating that regionalised cool episodes punctuated the background warmth of the early Eocene.

    • Madeleine L. Vickers
    • , Sabine K. Lengger
    •  & Christoph Korte
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The methane emissions from natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are unclear. Here the authors report high methane emissions from heavy-duty NGVs, and by using a scenario analysis show that strictly implementing the upcoming China VI standard could reduce GHG emissions by 509 Mt CO2eq for 2020-2030.

    • Da Pan
    • , Lei Tao
    •  & Mark A. Zondlo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    “How iodine-bearing molecules contribute to atmospheric aerosol formation is not well understood. Here, the authors provide a new gas-to-particle conversion mechanism and show that clustering of iodine oxides is an essential component of this process while previously proposed iodic acid does not play a large role.”

    • Juan Carlos Gómez Martín
    • , Thomas R. Lewis
    •  & Alfonso Saiz-Lopez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In anoxic environments, soluble hexavalent uranium is reduced and immobilized, however, the underlying molecular-scale reduction mechanism remains unknown. Here, the authors find that U reduction can occur on the surface of magnetite via transient U nanowire structures which collapse into ordered UO2 nanoclusters, which may have implications for understanding nuclear waste evolution and remediation of uranium contamination.

    • Zezhen Pan
    • , Barbora Bártová
    •  & Rizlan Bernier-Latmani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Selective reduction of carbon dioxide to high-value products is key for advancing carbon capture and utilization technologies. Here the authors prepare a copper catalyst for electrocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to C2+ products with enhanced selectivity that is attributed to a high density of surface defects.

    • Taehee Kim
    •  & G. Tayhas R. Palmore
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors here report tensile properties of polycrystalline methane hydrate at the micron scale by applying a contactless, thermos-induced stress to a tenuous shell of hydrate grown in a thin glass capillary. The results suggest that the cohesive strength of methane hydrate in marine settings may be an order of magnitude less than currently thought.

    • Dyhia Atig
    • , Daniel Broseta
    •  & Ross Brown
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A cloud of enhanced ruthenium concentrations has been observed over Europe in 2017, but no country has acknowledged responsibility for this nuclear release. Here, the authors show that the stable isotopic composition of ruthenium emitted from nuclear fuel reprocessing during the 2017 event is consistent with the isotopic signature of civilian Russian nuclear reactor fuel.

    • Timo Hopp
    • , Dorian Zok
    •  & Georg Steinhauser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How sulfur dioxide emitted through coal combustion is oxidized to sulfate particles during winter haze pollution events has been the subject of debate. Here, the authors show that rapid oxidation takes place by nitrogen dioxide and nitrous acid, producing nitrous oxide together with sulfate.

    • Junfeng Wang
    • , Jingyi Li
    •  & Daniel J. Jacob
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Black carbon is a recalcitrant and unique form of organic carbon formed from incomplete combustion. Here the authors use global sampling to reduce uncertainty in the flux of terrestrial black carbon to the oceans, predicting that 34% of black carbon produced by fires has an oceanic fate.

    • Matthew W. Jones
    • , Alysha I. Coppola
    •  & Timothy A. Quine