By what process can droplets be extracted out of the sea? This is an old problem, well-documented by precise field measurements of the size distribution of the spray aerosols. Lhuissier & Villermaux (J. Fluid Mech., this issue, vol. 696, 2012, pp. 5–44) study and characterize the bursting of an emerging bubble. They show that this single type of event can, by itself, generate the droplet size distributions in a sea spray. This is a remarkable result showing how, in a complex system, a statistical distribution can be entirely produced by the dynamics of one dominant phenomenon.
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