Photochemistry and the Sea-Surface Microlayer: Natural Processes and Potential as a Technique

  • Oliver C. Zafiriou
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 17)


The largest effects of photochemical processes in the Top Boundary Layer probably involve reactions at the sea surface of species formed by atmospheric processes. The ozone influx is probably the largest and most significant one. Ozone reacts with dissolved iodide and with other unknown components. One consequence is the formation of volatile iodine species, perhaps in sufficient amounts to balance the atmospheric iodine budget. However, most of the ozone reaction products undergo other fates.

These reactions drive chemical fluxes that may be coupled to other Top Boundary Layer processes in three ways: (1) modification of air-sea gas exchange processes and fluxes, (2) chemical modification of trace components of the Top Boundary Layer, especially of species with long residence times there (indigenous biota, surface-active molecules, particles), and (3) chemical modification of the physical properties of the interface via reaction of surface active materials, leading to changes in surface physical properties. These mechanisms may link the photochemicallydriven fluxes to trace element fluxes, surface biology, the fate of particles at the interface, and the damping of capillary waves by surface tension effects.

In order to substantiate some of these fluxes and effects, better methods of studying and of modeling the air-sea interface on scales even below 1 µm are needed. One possible tool in the required arsenal of new techniques may be the use of photochemical processes to generate materials at known rates and with known spatiotemporal distributions.


Particulate Organic Carbon Photochemical Process Capillary Wave Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Surface Physical Property 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver C. Zafiriou
    • 1
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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