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Science AMA Series: We are Susannah Burrows and Scott Elliott, atmospheric scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, who developed an approach to simulate how microscopic sea organisms impact cloud properties and the energy balance of the planet. AMA!

Atmospheric researchers at PNNL (/u/Dr_Susannah_Burrows) and LANL (/u/Dr_Scott_Elliott) worked together to develop a new approach to simulating how microscopic sea organisms known as phytoplankton – which includes a mix of algae, bacteria, and other microbes so tiny they are invisible to the naked eye – affect chemistry at the ocean’s surface. The mix is constantly made airborne by crashing oceans waves through sea spray, which ultimately impacts cloud properties and the energy balance of the planet. That’s because sea spray can influence the amount of sunlight that clouds reflect away from the Earth and its oceans, which normally act as a heat sink for the planet. A synopsis of this research is at, and our paper, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, is available at

If you want to know how sea spray affects the warming and cooling of the planet, we’ll answer your questions about the complex interactions of aerosol particles, ocean life and cloud systems, sunlight and precipitation processes – all important factors in modeling the Earth’s climate. We will be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer questions … Ask us anything!

submitted by Dr_Susannah_Burrows to science
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