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MARine atmospheric Science Unravelled: Analytical and mass spectrometric techniques development and application

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MARSU (MARine atmospheric Science Unravelled: Analytical and mass spectrometric techniques development and application)

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2020-01-31

The MARSU Network is a multi-site program carried by 4 Member States partner institutions (three from the academic sector and one from the non-academic sector) and six Third Countries institutions from South America, Africa and Asia. MARSU is a collaborative effort with the goal of gaining new knowledge and reducing the uncertainty about the effect of aerosols deriving from the air-sea exchange on climate and atmospheric composition.
The MARSU participants represent a strong interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists and analytical chemists, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of this research which lies at the intersection of several disciplines. The MARSU consortium brought together world-leading expert scientists conducting cutting-edge laboratory, simulation chamber studies, field sampling and analysis, analytical method development, and modelling studies.
As stated in the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aerosols and clouds have been identified as one of the largest uncertainties in our understanding of the atmospheric and the climate system. On the global scale, atmospheric aerosols are recognized as having a major impact on the Earth’s climate through direct and indirect radiative forcing. These effects lead to cooling or warming of the planet depending on the aerosol chemical and physical properties. Despite their importance, large uncertainties about their effects and transformations in the atmosphere still remain.
In this context, the MARSU team has conducted experiments in dedicated laboratory systems, combined with efforts in the field to determine the organic composition of aerosol particles and its evolution in the Marine Boundary Layer (MBL) which will help to come up with a revised picture of the effect of sea salt aerosols on climate.
A large set of data has been obtained within the project. The project has produced more than 20 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and at least 10 more are expected within next two years. The project activities have been disseminated in a number of international workshops, conferences and schools. Among the results obtained:
- Advanced analytical methods for the characterization of the sea surface microlayer (SML) have been developed by the partners using samples taken from the Atlantic sea. A novel modular “Chemical Analysis of Aerosol Online” (CHARON) particle inlet system coupled to a new-generation proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer that quantitatively detects organic analytes in real-time and sub-pptv levels has been developed.

- Laboratory based investigations on the processes involved in the sea surface-atmosphere exchange have been performed using the multiple facilities at the partners institutions. The air/water interfaces host countless amphiphilic compounds concentrated there with respect to bulk water, leading to a unique chemical environment. Photochemical processes at the air/water interface of biofilm-containing solutions are being studied, demonstrating abiotic VOC production from authentic biogenic surfactants under ambient conditions.

- A field campaign at Cape Verde observatory took place from mid-September to mid-October (2017) with the participation of most partners. This large Campaign enabled to measure a number of pollutants and characterize the Sea-Air exchange in a remote area (Atlantic Ocean). The Campaign took place at the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVAO). Data analysis still going on and they will be displayed and made accessible freely to the public. A first publication on the campaign is under discussion ( and there is a special issue of this joint campaign at

- The first Atmospheric Research Station in Morocco has been set up and is running smoothly. It has been set up by the partners of MARSU in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) ( The Atlas-M5 is running since July 2017 and is delivering online measurements. Data are displayed and provided to the public through the web site
A large scientific campaign has been conducted from September to October 2019 in the Fez Region (Morocco) with the participation of the partners of MARSU and others scientists from different institutions. Data will be published in international scientific peer review journals.

MARSU has contributed to the success of the following Workshops and Schools:
- Combustion and Atmospheric Pollution:
Saidia-Morocco (12-15 April, 2016):
Ouarzazate-Morocco (23-26 April 2018)
- Sino-French Workshops on Atmospheric Environment
Xi’an-China (11-14 October, 2016):
Orleans-France (10-12 September, 2018):
Chengdu-China (17-19 November, 2019):
- The third Sino-European School on Atmospheric Environment, Shanghai (21-30 November 2017)
- The Voltaire Atmospheric Chemistry Summer School: Fundamentals for Atmospheric Chemistry, Orleans (2-8 July 2017),
- MARSU Summer School Atmospheric and Marine Sciences Summer School, Cape Verde (16-18 October 2017)
- The fourth Sino-European School on Atmospheric Environment, Shanghai (04-15 November 2019)
MARSU has provided a framework for cross-fertilization that has led to an interdisciplinary scientific and staff exchange platform. The knowledge gained and disseminated within this network provided a valuable input for understanding the link between ocean, atmosphere and climate for future assessments. Also the knowledge gained has been tested in joint field experiments where researchers from the MARSU network were involved. The interdisciplinary and cross linking strategy adopted to achieve MARSU’s goals was to interconnect five work packages that supported each other. Each of these represented an essential contribution to the overall understanding of the chemistry and impact of the surface microlayer chemistry and its possible coupling with pollution. The project progress from fundamental laboratory measurements, field studies to implementation in a global climate model.
The infrastructure and equipment of the network participants was appropriate to investigate MARSU´s key topics while often world-leading related to air sea interactions with the focus of processes in the oceanic surface microlayer, that influences oceanic aerosols and their impact on air composition and climate. The knowledge from the process-oriented results have been integrated in global and regional models to evaluate the impact of marine aerosols with special emphasis on the organic content, and, in a broader sense, on atmospheric processes, composition and climate. The exchanged staff have benefited from a wide range of equipment and infrastructure provided by the different participants. They had a deep insight and adequate training in the various approaches during the numerous research and training activities and especially during their secondments to the network partners which is far beyond from what can be achieved in a single training group or institution.
MARSU's Activities Scheme