Validation of the Saharan Dust Plume Conceptual Model Using Lidar, Meteosat, and ECMWF Data

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Lidar observations collected during the Lidar In-space Technology Experiment experiment in conjunction with the Meteosat and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts data have been used not only to validate the Saharan dust plume conceptual model constructed from the GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Programme) Atlantic Tropical Experiment data, but also to examine the vicissitudes of the Saharan aerosol including their optical depths across the west Africa and east Atlantic regions. Optical depths were evaluated from both the Meteosat and lidar data. Back trajectory calculations were also made along selected lidar orbits to verify the characteristic anticyclonic rotation of the dust plume over the eastern Atlantic as well as to trace the origin of a dust outbreak over West Africa.

A detailed synoptic analysis including the satellite-derived optical depths, vertical lidar backscattering cross section profiles, and back trajectories of the 16–19 September 1994 Saharan dust outbreak over the eastern Atlantic and its origin over West Africa during the 12–15 September period have been presented. In addition, lidar-derived backscattering profiles and optical depths were objectively analyzed to investigate the general features of the dust plume and its geographical variations in optical thickness. These analyses validated many of the familiar characteristic features of the Saharan dust plume conceptual model such as (i) the lifting of the aerosol over central Sahara and its subsequent transport to the top of the Saharan air layer (SAL), (ii) the westward rise of the dust layer above the gradually deepening marine mixed layer and the sinking of the dust-layer top, (iii) the anticyclonic gyration of the dust pulse between two consecutive trough axes, (iv) the dome-shaped structure of the dust-layer top and bottom, (v) occurrence of a middle-level jet near the southern boundary of the SAL, (vi) transverse–vertical circulations across the SAL front including their possible role in the initiation of a squall line to the southside of the jet that ultimately developed into a tropical storm, and (vii) existence of satellite-based high optical depths to the north of the middle-level jet in the ridge region of the wave.

Furthermore, the combined analyses reveal a complex structure of the dust plume including its origin over North Africa and its subsequent westward migration over the Atlantic Ocean. The dust plume over the west African coastline appears to be composed of two separate but narrow plumes originating over the central Sahara and Lake Chad regions, in contrast to one single large plume shown in the conceptual model. Lidar observations clearly show that the Saharan aerosol over North Africa not only consist of background dust (Harmattan haze) but also wind-blown aerosol from fresh dust outbreaks. They further exhibit maximum dust concentration near the middle-level jet axis with downward extension of heavy dust into the marine boundary layer including a clean dust-free trade wind inversion to the north of the dust layer over the eastern Atlantic region. The lidar-derived optical depths show a rapid decrease of optical depths away from land with maximum optical depths located close to the midlevel jet, in contrast to north of the jet shown by satellite estimates and the conceptual model. To reduce the uncertainties in estimating extinction-to-backscattering ratio for optical depth calculations from lidar data, direct aircraft measurements of optical and physical properties of the Saharan dust layer are needed.

*Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

+Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

#Atmospheric Sciences Division, NASA/Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

@Center for Atmospheric Research Experiments, Egbert, Ontario, Canada.

&Laboratoire de Sciences du Climate et de 1'Environment, CEACNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

**University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland.

++Additional affiliation: Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland.

##Additional affiliation: Hughes STX Corporation, Lanham, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: V. Mohan Karyampudi, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: mohan@debbie.gsfc.nasa.gov

Lidar observations collected during the Lidar In-space Technology Experiment experiment in conjunction with the Meteosat and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts data have been used not only to validate the Saharan dust plume conceptual model constructed from the GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Programme) Atlantic Tropical Experiment data, but also to examine the vicissitudes of the Saharan aerosol including their optical depths across the west Africa and east Atlantic regions. Optical depths were evaluated from both the Meteosat and lidar data. Back trajectory calculations were also made along selected lidar orbits to verify the characteristic anticyclonic rotation of the dust plume over the eastern Atlantic as well as to trace the origin of a dust outbreak over West Africa.

A detailed synoptic analysis including the satellite-derived optical depths, vertical lidar backscattering cross section profiles, and back trajectories of the 16–19 September 1994 Saharan dust outbreak over the eastern Atlantic and its origin over West Africa during the 12–15 September period have been presented. In addition, lidar-derived backscattering profiles and optical depths were objectively analyzed to investigate the general features of the dust plume and its geographical variations in optical thickness. These analyses validated many of the familiar characteristic features of the Saharan dust plume conceptual model such as (i) the lifting of the aerosol over central Sahara and its subsequent transport to the top of the Saharan air layer (SAL), (ii) the westward rise of the dust layer above the gradually deepening marine mixed layer and the sinking of the dust-layer top, (iii) the anticyclonic gyration of the dust pulse between two consecutive trough axes, (iv) the dome-shaped structure of the dust-layer top and bottom, (v) occurrence of a middle-level jet near the southern boundary of the SAL, (vi) transverse–vertical circulations across the SAL front including their possible role in the initiation of a squall line to the southside of the jet that ultimately developed into a tropical storm, and (vii) existence of satellite-based high optical depths to the north of the middle-level jet in the ridge region of the wave.

Furthermore, the combined analyses reveal a complex structure of the dust plume including its origin over North Africa and its subsequent westward migration over the Atlantic Ocean. The dust plume over the west African coastline appears to be composed of two separate but narrow plumes originating over the central Sahara and Lake Chad regions, in contrast to one single large plume shown in the conceptual model. Lidar observations clearly show that the Saharan aerosol over North Africa not only consist of background dust (Harmattan haze) but also wind-blown aerosol from fresh dust outbreaks. They further exhibit maximum dust concentration near the middle-level jet axis with downward extension of heavy dust into the marine boundary layer including a clean dust-free trade wind inversion to the north of the dust layer over the eastern Atlantic region. The lidar-derived optical depths show a rapid decrease of optical depths away from land with maximum optical depths located close to the midlevel jet, in contrast to north of the jet shown by satellite estimates and the conceptual model. To reduce the uncertainties in estimating extinction-to-backscattering ratio for optical depth calculations from lidar data, direct aircraft measurements of optical and physical properties of the Saharan dust layer are needed.

*Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

+Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

#Atmospheric Sciences Division, NASA/Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

@Center for Atmospheric Research Experiments, Egbert, Ontario, Canada.

&Laboratoire de Sciences du Climate et de 1'Environment, CEACNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

**University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland.

++Additional affiliation: Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland.

##Additional affiliation: Hughes STX Corporation, Lanham, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: V. Mohan Karyampudi, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: mohan@debbie.gsfc.nasa.gov
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