Abstract

In this paper the source strength and the deposition rate of the dust emerging from the Sahara are assessed. For this purpose a multichannel sunphotometer has been developed and a turbidity network covering 11 stations has been set up in the Sahara, in the Sahel region and the surrounding southern area for a duration of about two years. A correlation analysis connecting observed aerosol turbidity parameters and mineral dust mass concentration has been performed during a four-week field campaign in Agadez (Niger). An appropriate box model including the aerosol turbidity parameters, actual wind field data of the source regions, the general circulation pattern over Africa and dry and wet deposition reveals a total mass production of about 630 × 106 and 710 × 106 t yr−1 for all suspended particulate matter, 80 × 106 and 90 × 106 t yr−1 for aerosol particles smaller than 5 μm radius for the years 1981 and 1982 respectively. About 60% of the mass moves southward to the Gulf of Guinea, 28% westward to the equatorial North Atlantic Ocean and 12% northward to Europe. A considerable part is deposited in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean forming deep-sea sediments.

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