Does Marine Surface Tension Have Global Biogeography? Addition for the OCEANFILMS Package Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • We apply principles of Gibbs phase plane chemistry to and across the entire ocean-atmospheric interface. Surface tension increments support a two dimensional, tangential pressure well known to determine rates of bulk gas, bubble, salt, spray and momentum transfer plus both sensible and latent heat fluxes. Hence it is worth asking whether tension mapping follows from current understanding of two dimensional composition. A history is provided dating back centuries and demonstrating that detrital organic macromolecules are central; subtle surfactant functional variation creates a microforcing field which dissipates turbulent energy at the sub-meter scale. Since we have just distributed major biopolymeric classes emitted as primary organic aerosol, further climate links can be established by considering full planar thermochemistry. Organic microlayer behaviors are reviewed with attention to confined, analog phase transitions among two dimensional “solid, liquid, (and) gaseous” states serving as elasticity indicators. We also discuss surfactant properties of general marine dissolved organic carbon, demonstrating that only proteins and lipids are capable of occupying significant local micro-area. The literature often suggests albumin and stearic acid as best proxies, and so we distribute their concentrations through multilevel global ecodynamic simulations. Consensus distributions are obtained in order to control adsorptive equilibria. Working from conservation of planar free energy, a parametric equation of state is devised relating excess coverage to the surface pressure-modulus. Constant settings for the proxy pair are drawn from laboratory study, and they successfully reproduce frequencies for surfactant solid-to-gas occurrence in ambient compression experiments. Functionally resolved organic measurements are rare and so we group them into super-ecological province tables showing that our bulk concentration estimates are reasonable. Outputs are then fed into a coverage-tension-elasticity code. Resulting contours traverse the critical range for piston velocity, bubble-spray and damping effects on either a regional or seasonal basis. There is also a possibility for widespread microlayer crystallization in polar seas. The concepts are a direct extension of our organic aerosol work, and the two approaches could be inserted into Earth System Models in tandem. Uncertainties in the logic are enumerated and include kinetic and thermochemical factors at multiple scales. But the problems are reducible through molecular modeling coupled to renewed laboratory and field study. Connections to marine colloids-gels, microlayer iron chelation, and linings of the ice channel network are discussed additionally.

author list (cited authors)

  • Elliott, S., Burrows, S., Cameron-Smith, P., Hoffman, F., Hunke, E., Jeffery, N., ... Wingenter, O.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Elliott, Scott||Burrows, Susannah||Cameron-Smith, Philip||Hoffman, Forrest||Hunke, Elizabeth||Jeffery, Nicole||Liu, Yina||Maltrud, Mathew||Ogunro, Oluwaseun||Van Roekel, Luke||Wang, Shanlin||Brunke, Michael||Deal, Clara||Jin, Meibing||Letscher, Robert||Meskhidze, Nicholas||Russell, Lynn||Simpson, Isla||Stokes, Dale||Wingenter, Oliver

Book Title


publication date

  • October 2017