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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-130
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-130
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 23 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

North African mineral dust sources: new insights from a combined analysis based on 3D dust aerosols distributions, surface winds and ancillary soil parameters

Sophie Vandenbussche1, Sieglinde Callewaert1, Kerstin Schepanski2, and Martine De Mazière1 Sophie Vandenbussche et al.
  • 1Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, 3 avenue circulaire, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. Mineral dust aerosol is a key player in the climate system. Determining dust sources and the spatio-temporal variability of dust emission fluxes is essential to estimating the impact of dust on the atmospheric radiation budget, cloud and precipitation formation processes, the bio-productivity and ultimately the carbon cycle. Although much effort has been put into determining dust sources from satellite observations, geo-locating active dust sources is still challenging and uncertainties in space and time are evident. One major source of uncertainty is the lack of clear differentiation between near source dust aerosol and transported dust aerosol. In order to reduce this uncertainty, we use 3 dimensional information on the distribution of dust aerosol suspended in the atmosphere calculated from spectral measurements obtained by the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) by using the Mineral Aerosols Profiling from Infrared Radiance (MAPIR) algorithm. In addition to standard dust products from satellite observations, which provide 2 dimensional information on the horizontal distribution of dust, MAPIR allows for retrieving additional information on the vertical distribution of dust plumes. This ultimately enables us to separate between near source and transported dust plumes. Combined with information on near-surface wind speed and surface properties, low-altitude dust plumes can be assigned to dust emission events and low-altitude transport regimes can be excluded. Consequently, this technique will reduce the uncertainty in automatically geo-locating active dust sources.

The findings of our study illustrate the spatio-temporal distribution of North African dust sources based on 9 years of data, allowing to observe a full seasonal cycle of dust emissions, differentiating morning and afternoon/evening emissions and providing a first glance at long-term changes. In addition, we compare the results of this new method to the results from Schepanski et al. (2012) which manually identify dust sources from Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager Red Green Blue (SEVIRI RGB) images. The comparison illustrates that each method has its strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into account when using the results. This study is of particular importance for understanding future environmental changes due to a changing climate.

Sophie Vandenbussche et al.

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Sophie Vandenbussche et al.

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Latest update: 05 Jul 2020
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Short summary
Mineral dust aerosols blown mostly from desert areas are a key player in the climate system. We use a new data set of desert dust aerosols low altitude concentration together with additional information on the surface state and low altitude winds to infer desert dust emission and source maps over north Africa. With 9 years of data, we observe a full seasonal cycle of dust emissions, differentiating morning and afternoon / evening emissions and providing a first glance at long-term changes.
Mineral dust aerosols blown mostly from desert areas are a key player in the climate system. We...
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