Identification of dust source regions and dust emission trends across North Africa and the Middle East using MISR satellite observations

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 08:00
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Global arid and semi-arid regions supply 1100 to 5000 Tg of Aeolian dust to the atmosphere each year, primarily from North Africa and secondarily from the Middle East. Previous dust source identification methods, based on either remotely-sensed aerosol optical depth (AOD) or dust activity, yield distinct dust source maps, largely due to the limitations in each method and remote-sensing product. Here we apply a novel motion-based method for dust source identification. Dust plume thickness and motion vectors from Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) Cloud Motion Vector Product (CMVP) are examined to identify the regions with high frequency of fast moving-dust plumes, by season. According to MISR CMVP, Bodele depression is the most important dust source across North Africa, consistent with previous studies. Seasonal variability of dust emission across the North Africa is largely driven by climatology of wind and precipitation, featuring the influence of Sharav Cyclone and western African monsoon. In the Middle East, Iraq, Kuwait, and eastern Saudi Arabia are identified as dust source regions, especially during summer months, when the Middle Eastern Shamal wind is active. Furthermore, dust emission trend at each dust source are diagnosed from the motion-based dust source dataset. Increase in dust emission from the Fertile Crescent, Sahel, and eastern African dust sources are identified from MISR CMVP, implying potential contribution from these dust sources to the upward trend in AOD and dust AOD over the Middle East in the 21st century. By comparing with various dust source identification studies, we conclude that the motion-based identification of dust sources is an encouraging alternative and compliment to the AOD-only source identification method.

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