Potential Impacts of Saharan Dust on the African Air Quality

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:15 AM
Charles M Ichoku1, Maksym Petrenko1, Hesham Mohamed El-Askary2, Jun Wang3, Zhifeng Yang4 and Yun Yue3, (1)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (2)Chapman Univ, Orange, CA, United States, (3)University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States, (4)University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States
The largest dust source in the world is the Sahara desert, which occupies most of the northern half of Africa. A recent international modeling experiment conducted under the auspices of the Aerosol Comparisons between Observations and Models (AEROCOM) initiative estimated that the annual dust generation from the Sahara and its peripheries is in the range of 400 to 2200 Tg yr−1. It is estimated that about 240±80 Tg yr−1 of the dust leaves the western shores of Africa on its way across the Atlantic. Therefore, a majority of the dust emitted from and around the Sahara remains and circulates within Africa, potentially affecting the environment, air quality, and human health, among other effects. Given the apparent scarcity of ground-based air-quality monitoring networks in Africa, we are exploring approaches that utilize satellite measurements and regional models to estimate the air-quality impacts of aerosols (particularly those of biomass burning and dust) in northern Hemisphere Africa. Some of the model simulations evaluated using ground-based and satellite observations show that the regional models deliver a high performance in capturing the mixing and transport of biomass-burning (smoke) and dust aerosols. In this presentation, we will share our preliminary results and future perspectives.