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Chemistry and Release of Gases from the Surface Ocean

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JournalChemical Reviews
DatePublished - 26 Mar 2015
Issue number10
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)4015-4034
Original languageEnglish


The chemical and physical structure of the sea surface and mechanisms for gas transfer across it is reviewed and the current understanding of trace gas formation at this critical interface between the ocean and atmosphere is studied. Marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) influences the production of most marine volatile trace gases. It is primarily sourced from marine biota, particularly photosynthetic algae and bacteria, and released during phytoplankton growth, as a consequence of grazing by predators and during viral lysis of cells. DOM is present at low concentrations in the oceans and is operationally distinct from particulate organic matter (POM) as the fraction passing through a filter pore. Measurements of DOM composition are generally selectively defined toward a particular chemical and physical class of DOM, dependent on the sampling, isolation, and detection method. While consumption by heterotrophic bacteria is the main removal pathway of DOM, photochemical oxidation to carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide,27 and oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) also occurs in or on the surface ocean. Photolysis and chemical oxidation of inorganic compounds, including halides, nitrates, and nitrites, also play important roles in ocean-atmospheric exchange of key constituents of atmospheric composition.

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