Precursors to Particles (P2P) at Cape Grim 2006: campaign overview

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Environmental Chemistry, Volume 4, Issue 3, p.143 - 150 (2007)



iodine, kelp, methyl iodide, particle formation.


Environmental context. Understanding the role of clouds in assessing the impact of climate change is a challenging issue. It is thought that plankton and seaweed contribute to the formation of clouds by emitting gases that lead to the particle production necessary for cloud formation. Macroalgae (kelp) at Mace Head, Ireland, produce large quantities of iodine when exposed to sunlight at low tide and this iodine results in the rapid production of particles. Cape Grim, Tasmania, also has large colonies of kelp and the role of Bull Kelp (Durvillaea potatorum) in particle production was assessed. Abstract. Iodine emissions from coastal macroalgae have been found to be important initiators for nucleation events at Mace Head, Ireland. The source of this iodine is the large beds of the brown kelp Laminaria digitata, which are significantly exposed at low tide. On the coast around Cape Grim, Tasmania, there are beds of the brown kelp Durvillaea potatrum. The Precursors to Particles 2006 (P2P 2006) campaign at the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station in late summer (February) 2006 focused on the role of this local kelp in providing precursor gases to particle formation. Durvillaea potatorum does not produce iodated precursor gases at the levels observed at Mace Head. IO was measured at 0.5 ± 0.3 ppt, while OIO was below detection limits (9 ppt). The dominant atmospheric iodated species was methyl iodide and the average concentration measured at the Cape Grim Station was 1.5 ± 0.3 pptv in baseline conditions, but showed significant variation in discrete samples collected immediately above the ocean surface. Nucleation events were not detected at the Cape Grim Station, except for one period where the plume of a local bushfire interacted with air of marine origin. The passage of four fronts did not result in nucleation bursts and measurements on the beach 94 m below the Cape Grim Station suggested that Durvillaea potatorum was only a weak source of new particles.