1Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación, Barcelona, Spain
2NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, USA
3Department of Applied Physics and Applied Math, Columbia University, New York, USA
4National Centers for Environmental Prediction, College Park, Maryland, USA
5Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract. One of the major sources of uncertainty in model estimates of the global sea-salt aerosol distribution is the emission parameterization. We evaluate a new sea-salt aerosol life cycle module coupled to the online multiscale chemical transport model NMMB/BSC-CTM. We compare 5 yr global simulations using five state-of-the-art sea-salt open-ocean emission schemes with monthly averaged coarse aerosol optical depth (AOD) from selected AERONET sun photometers, surface concentration measurements from the University of Miami's Ocean Aerosol Network, and measurements from two NOAA/PMEL cruises (AEROINDOEX and ACE1). Model results are highly sensitive to the introduction of sea-surface-temperature (SST)-dependent emissions and to the accounting of spume particles production. Emission ranges from 3888 Tg yr−1 to 8114 Tg yr−1, lifetime varies between 7.3 h and 11.3 h, and the average column mass load is between 5.0 Tg and 7.2 Tg. Coarse AOD is reproduced with an overall correlation of around 0.5 and with normalized biases ranging from +8.8% to +38.8%. Surface concentration is simulated with normalized biases ranging from −9.5% to +28% and the overall correlation is around 0.5. Our results indicate that SST-dependent emission schemes improve the overall model performance in reproducing surface concentrations. On the other hand, they lead to an overestimation of the coarse AOD at tropical latitudes, although it may be affected by uncertainties in the comparison due to the use of all-sky model AOD, the treatment of water uptake, deposition and optical properties in the model and/or an inaccurate size distribution at emission.