The Role of Meteorology and Surface Condition to Multi-Decadal Variations of Dust Emission in Sahara and Sahel
Thursday, 18 December 2014
North Africa is the world’s largest dust source region influencing regional and global climate, human health, and even the local economy. However North Africa as a dust source is not uniform but it consists of the arid region (Sahara) and the semi-arid region (Sahel) with emission rates depending on meteorological and surface conditions. Several recent studies have shown that dust from North Africa seems to have a decreasing trend in the past three decades. The goal of this study is to better understand the controlling factors that determine the change of dust in North Africa using observational data and model simulations. First we analyze surface bareness conditions determined from a long-term satellite observed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index for 1980-2008. Then we examine the key meteorological variables of precipitation and surface winds. Modeling experiments were conducted using the NASA Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) model, which has been recently updated with a dynamic dust source function. Using the method we separate the dust originating from the Sahel from that of the Sahara desert. We find that the surface wind speed is the most dominant factor affecting Sahelian dust emission while vegetation has a modulating effect. We will show regional differences in meteorological variables, surface conditions, dust emission, and dust distribution and address the relationships among meteorology, surface conditions, and dust emission/loading in the past three decades (1980-2008).