Dimethyl Sulfide in the Surface Ocean and the Marine Atmosphere: A Global View

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Science  19 Aug 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4612, pp. 744-747
DOI: 10.1126/science.221.4612.744


Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) has been identified as the major volatile sulfur compound in 628 samples of surface seawater representing most of the major oceanic ecozones. In at least three respects, its vertical distribution, its local patchiness, and its distribution in oceanic ecozones, the concentration of DMS in the sea exhibits a pattern similar to that of primary production. The global weightedaverage concentration of DMS in surface seawater is 102 nanograms of sulfur (DMS) per liter, corresponding to a global sea-to-air flux of 39 x 1012 grams of sulfur per year. When the biogenic sulfur contributions from the land surface are added, the biogenic sulfur gas flux is approximately equal to the anthropogenic flux of sulfur dioxide. The DMS concentration in air over the equatorial Pacific varies diurnally between 120 and 200 nanograms of sulfur (DMS) per cubic meter, in agreement with the predictions of photochemical models. The estimated source flux of DMS from the oceans to the marine atmosphere is in agreement with independently obtained estimates of the removal fluxes of DMS and its oxidation products from the atmosphere.