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Modeling mineral dust emissions from the Sahara desert using new surface properties and soil database

Abstract : The present study investigates the mineral dust emissions and the occurrence of dust emission events over the Sahara desert from 1996 to 2001. Mineral dust emissions are simulated over a region extending from 16°N to 38°N and from 19°W to 40°E with a equation image° × equation image° spatial resolution. The input parameters required by the dust emission model are surface features data (aerodynamic roughness length, dry soil size distribution and texture for erodible soils), and meteorological surface data (mainly surface wind velocity and soil moisture). A map of the aerodynamic roughness lengths is established based on a composition of protrusion coefficients derived from the POLDER‐1 surface products. Soil dry size distribution and texture are derived from measurements performed on soil samples from desert areas, and from a soil map derived from a geomorphologic analysis of desert landscapes. Surface re‐analyzed meteorological databases (ERA‐40) of the European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) are used. The influence of soil moisture on simulated dust emissions is quantified. The main Saharan dust sources identified during the 6‐year simulated period are in agreement with the previous studies based on in situ or satellite observations. The relevance of the simulated large dust sources and point sources (“hot spots”) is tested using aerosol indexes derived from satellite observations (TOMS Absorbing Aerosol Index and Infrared Dust Difference Index Meteosat). The Saharan dust emissions simulated from 1996 to 2001 range from 585 to 759 Tg a−1. The simulations show marked seasonal cycles with a maximum in summer for the western Sahara and in spring for the eastern Sahara. The interannual variability of dust emissions is pronounced in the eastern part of the Sahara while the emissions from the western Sahara are more regular over the studied period. The soil moisture does not noticeably affect the Saharan dust emissions, their seasonal cycle or their interannual variability, but it can partly control and limit the dust emissions in some parts of the northern desert margin, where the precipitation rates are higher. Our simulations also tend to confirm that the Sahara is the major terrestrial source of mineral dust.
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B. Laurent, B. Marticoréna, G. Bergametti, J. F. Leon, N. Mahowald. Modeling mineral dust emissions from the Sahara desert using new surface properties and soil database. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2008, 113 (D14), pp.D14218. ⟨10.1029/2007JD009484⟩. ⟨hal-02326008⟩

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