Measurement report: Understanding the seasonal cycle of Southern Ocean aerosols

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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics


The remoteness and extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic region have meant that observations in this region are rare, and typically restricted to summertime during research or resupply voyages. Observations of aerosols outside of the summer season are typically limited to long-term stations, such as Kennaook / Cape Grim (KCG; 40.7S, 144.7E), which is situated in the northern latitudes of the Southern Ocean, and Antarctic research stations, such as the Japanese operated Syowa (SYO; 69.0S, 39.6E). Measurements in the midlatitudes of the Southern Ocean are important, particularly in light of recent observations that highlighted the latitudinal gradient that exists across the region in summertime. Here we present 2 years (March 2016-March 2018) of observations from Macquarie Island (MQI; 54.5S, 159.0E) of aerosol (condensation nuclei larger than 10nm, CN10) and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN at various supersaturations) concentrations. This important multi-year data set is characterised, and its features are compared with the long-term data sets from KCG and SYO together with those from recent, regionally relevant voyages. CN10 concentrations were the highest at KCG by a factor of ∼50% across all non-winter seasons compared to the other two stations, which were similar (summer medians of 530, 426 and 468cm-3 at KCG, MQI and SYO, respectively). In wintertime, seasonal minima at KCG and MQI were similar (142 and 152cm-3, respectively), with SYO being distinctly lower (87cm-3), likely the result of the reduction in sea spray aerosol generation due to the sea ice ocean cover around the site. CN10 seasonal maxima were observed at the stations at different times of year, with KCG and MQI exhibiting January maxima and SYO having a distinct February high. Comparison of CCN0.5 data between KCG and MQI showed similar overall trends with summertime maxima and wintertime minima; however, KCG exhibited slightly (∼10%) higher concentrations in summer (medians of 158 and 145cm-3, respectively), whereas KCG showed ∼40% lower concentrations than MQI in winter (medians of 57 and 92cm-3, respectively). Spatial and temporal trends in the data were analysed further by contrasting data to coincident observations that occurred aboard several voyages of the RSV Aurora Australis and the RV Investigator. Results from this study are important for validating and improving our models and highlight the heterogeneity of this pristine region and the need for further long-term observations that capture the seasonal cycles.

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U.S. Department of Energy



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