How many truckloads for carrying a typical “boomerang” Saharan dust over the Atlantic?

Saharan dust outbreak often occurs across the Atlantic. Here, a big #aerosol plume was captured by  the Sentinel-3 Ocean & Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) from the  Copernicus programme led by the European Union (EU). A big fraction of it usually travels across-Atlantic and one may think it doesn’t come back to us…

Screenshot 2019-11-01 at 22.17.49.png
Red-Green-Blue (RGB) composite imaged from Sentinel-3 OLCI, 2019.11.01. Source: https://s3view.oceandatalab.com/?date=1572609600975&timespan=1d&zoom=3&extent=-10879740.856484%2C-7054220.4654004%2C10879740.856484%2C7054220.4654004&products=3857_Sentinel-3_OLCI_true_RGB%2C3857_Sentinel-3B_OLCI_true_RGB&opacity=100%2C100&stackLevel=85%2C85.01

But the forecast of Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) for Friday 1st November 2019, computed by the Copernicus Atmospheric Service (CAMS) & depicted by the Windy on-line application, shows a striking dust “boomerang”-like pattern. After travelling a large distance, a heavy dust load eventually comes back to South Europe. Wind is a key factor explaining such aerosol long-range transport.

Screenshot 2019-11-01 at 22.23.47.png
AOD forecast for Friday 2019.11.01 at 11 am, computed by CAMS and illustrated by Windy. Source: https://www.windy.com/-Menu/tools?aod550,15.708,-55.020,3

My colleague, Dr. Antti Lipponen, researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institue (FMI), evaluated this transport phenomenon in a fancy unit. “Based on NASA’s GEOS-FP analysis the area of the dust over the Atlantic Ocean is about 9.1 million km² and the mass of the dust about 2.6 million tons (2 600 000 000 kg). If a truck would carry 40 tons of dust it would make about 65 000 truckloads!!!

Screenshot 2019-11-03 at 14.50.10.png
Source: https://twitter.com/anttilip/status/1190603602819256321

More information?

  • Windy here
  • Copernicus Atmospheric Service (CAMS) here
  • Follow Anti Lipponen on Twitter here
  • Aerosol WebPage here

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