Synergetic monitoring of Saharan dust plumes and potential impact on surface: a case study of dust transport from Canary Islands to Iberian Peninsula
1Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Atmospheric Research and Instrumentation Branch, Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), Spain
2Universidad de Granada (UGR), Andalusian Environmental Centre (CEAMA), Group of Atmospheric Physics, Granada, Spain
3Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET), Atmospheric Research Centre of Izaña, Sta. Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
4Universidad de Valladolid (UVA), Group of Atmospheric Optics, Valladolid, Spain
*now at: Évora Geophysics Centre (CGE), University of Évora, Évora, Portugal
Abstract. Synergetic use of meteorological information, remote sensing both ground-based active (lidar) and passive (sun-photometry) techniques together with backtrajectory analysis and in situ measurements is carried out for the characterization of dust intrusions. A case study of air masses advected from Saharan region to the Canary Islands and the Iberian Peninsula, relatively located close and far away from the dust sources, respectively, was monitored from 11 to 19 March 2008. The observations were performed over three Spanish geographically strategic within the dust-influenced area stations along a common dust plume pathway. A 4-day long dust event (13–16 March) over the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Observatory (SCO), and a linked short 1-day dust episode (14 March) in the Southern Iberian Peninsula over both the Atmospheric Sounding Station "El Arenosillo" (ARN) and the Granada station (GRA) were detected. Meteorological situation favoured the dust plume transport over the area under study. Backtrajectory analysis clearly showed the Saharan origin of the dust intrusion. Under the Saharan air masses influence, AERONET Aerosol Optical Depth at 500 nm (AOD500) ranged from 0.3 to 0.6 and Angstrom Exponent at 440/675 nm wavelength pair (AE440/675) was lower than 0.5, indicating a high loading and predominance of coarse particles during those dusty events. Lidar observations characterized their vertical layering structure, identifying different aerosol contributions depending on altitude. In particular, the 3-km height layer observed over ARN and GRA stations corresponds to that dust plume transported from Saharan region after crossing through Canary Islands at 3 km height as observed over SCO site as well. No significant differences were found in the lidar (extinction-to-backscatter) ratio (LR) estimation for that dust plume over all stations when a suitable aerosol scenario for lidar data retrieval is selected. Lidar-retrieved LR values of 65–70 sr were obtained during the principal dusty episodes. These similar LR values found in all the stations suggest that dust properties were kept unchanged in the course of its medium-range transport. In addition, the potential impact on surface of that Saharan dust intrusion over the Iberian Peninsula was evaluated by ground-level in situ measurements for particle deposition assessment together with backtrajectory analysis. However, no connection between those dust plumes and the particle sedimentation registered at ground level is found. Differences on particle deposition process observed in both Southern Iberian Peninsula sites are due to the particular dust transport pattern occurred in each station.