Marine sulphur emissions

Peter S. Liss, Angela D. Hatton, Gill Malin, Philip D. Nightingale*, Suzanne M. Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (SciVal)


The principal volatile sulphur species found in seawater are dimethyl sulphide (DMS), carbonyl sulphide (COS) and carbon disulphide (CS2). Of these, DMS is the most abundant and widespread in its distribution. The predominant oceanic source of DMS is dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), a compatible solute synthesized by phytoplankton for osmoregulation and/or cryoprotection. Not all species have the same ability to form DMSP; for example, diatoms generally produce little, whereas prymnesiophytes and some dinoflagellates make significantly larger amounts. Much of the release of DMSP and DMS to the water occurs on death or through predation of the plankton. Our recent field data strongly suggest that oxidation of DMS to dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) is an important process in the water column, and it is clear that considerable internal cycling in the DMSP/DMS/DMSO system occurs in the euphotic zone. A fraction of the DMS crosses the sea surface and enters the atmosphere where it is oxidized by radicals such as OH and NO3 to form products such as methanesulphonate (MSA), DMSO and non-sea salt sulphate (NSSS) particles. These particles are the main source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) over oceanic areas remote from land.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1350
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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