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The contribution of coral-reef-derived dimethyl sulfide to aerosol burden over the Great Barrier Reef: a modelling study


Fiddes, SL and Woodhouse, MT and Utembe, S and Schofield, R and Alexander, SP and Alroe, J and Chambers, SD and Chen, Z and Cravigan, L and Dunne, E and Humphries, RS and Johnson, G and Keywood, MD and Lane, TP and Milijevic, B and Omori, Y and Protat, A and Ristovski, Z and Selleck, P and Swan, HB and Tanimoto, H and Ward, JP and Williams, AG, The contribution of coral-reef-derived dimethyl sulfide to aerosol burden over the Great Barrier Reef: a modelling study, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22, (4) pp. 2419-2445. ISSN 1680-7316 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License. (

DOI: doi:10.5194/acp-22-2419-2022


Coral reefs have been found to produce the sulfur compound dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a climatically relevant aerosol precursor predominantly associated with phytoplankton. Until recently, the role of coral-reef-derived DMS within the climate system had not been quantified. A study preceding the present work found that DMS produced by corals had negligible long-term climatic forcing at the global–regional scale. However, at sub-daily timescales more typically associated with aerosol and cloud formation, the influence of coral-reef-derived DMS on local aerosol radiative effects remains unquantified. The Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) has been used in this work to study the role of coral-reef-derived DMS at sub-daily timescales for the first time. WRF-Chem was run to coincide with an October 2016 field campaign over the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia, against which the model was evaluated. After updating and scaling the DMS surface water climatology, the model reproduced DMS and sulfur concentrations well. The inclusion of coral-reef-derived DMS resulted in no significant change in sulfate aerosol mass or total aerosol number. Subsequently, no direct or indirect aerosol effects were detected. The results suggest that the co-location of the Great Barrier Reef with significant anthropogenic aerosol sources along the Queensland coast prevents coral-reef-derived aerosol from having a modulating influence on local aerosol burdens in the current climate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coral reefs, aerosol, modelling
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Atmospheric sciences
Research Field:Atmospheric composition, chemistry and processes
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Atmospheric composition (incl. greenhouse gas inventory)
UTAS Author:Fiddes, SL (Miss Sonya Fiddes)
ID Code:149009
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Australian Antarctic Program Partnership
Deposited On:2022-02-28
Last Modified:2022-03-03
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