Marine particle nucleation: Observation at Bodega Bay, California

Jian Wen, Yongjing Zhao, Anthony S. Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A TSI nano-SMPS was installed in a lab at Bodega Bay, about 50 m from the coastline and 5 m above sea level. On the basis of measurements conducted from June to December 2001 and from January to June 2003, we have observed two kinds of nucleation events, i.e., long-term (a few hours) and short-term (a few minutes) particle bursts. The long-term events mostly occur during daytime in the summer, lasting from 0.5 to 8 hours. Narrow spikes (short-term events) that occur year-round, both day and night, last only a few minutes to a half hour but contain particle number concentrations comparable to some of the long-term events. Wind direction and speed affect the occurrence and intensity of the particle burst. Nucleation mostly takes place during northwesterly onshore wind for both long- and short-term events, and the probability of nucleation occurrence is higher at higher wind speed. However, in contrast to what has been observed at Mace Head, Ireland, nucleation at Bodega Bay does not correlate with tidal height. Instead, the seasonal and interannual variations of ultrafine particle number concentration N3-10nm appear to correlate with ocean upwelling, a characteristic of currents along the west coast of the United States that brings up nutrients from subsurface waters, promoting plant productivity. Simultaneous measurements of nucleation at the coast and 1.6 km out suggest that nucleation is a coastal phenomenon, supporting the contention that it is related to direct or biogenic emission of precursor gases from the coastal area during the sea upwelling periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD08207
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 27 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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