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An empirical equation to estimate mineral dust concentrations from visibility observations in Northern Africa

Camino, C., Cuevas, E., Basart, S., Alonso-Pérez, S., Baldasano, J.M., Terradellas, E., Marticorena, B., Rodríguez, S., Berjón, A.
Aeolian research 2015 v.16 pp. 55-68
Sahel, aerosols, dust, equations, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, monitoring, monsoon season, optical properties, particulates, relative humidity, wet season, Northern Africa, Spain
This paper presents a new empirical equation relating horizontal visibility and PM10 dust concentrations. The new empirical equation (IZO-Eq) is derived from observations performed at the Izaña Atmospheric Observatory (IZO, 28.30°N, 16.49°W, 2367m a.s.l., Tenerife, Spain), recorded during Saharan dust outbreaks from 2003 to 2010. A filter based on relative humidity, present-weather and aerosol optical properties is applied to identify dust events. IZO-Eq is validated in the Sahel region during the dry and wet seasons (2006–2008) using data from two PM10 monitoring stations from the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) International Project, and data from the nearest meteorological synoptic stations. The estimated PM10 derived from IZO-Eq is compared against that those obtained by other empirical equations and dust surface concentrations from NMMB/BSC-Dust model. IZO-Eq presents better performance than the other equations in both dry and wet seasons when compared with observed PM10 at two Sahelian sites. IZO-Eq is also able to reproduce the surface concentration variability simulated by NMMB/BSC-Dust. Above 10km of horizontal visibility, empirical equations cannot be used to estimate PM10, since above this threshold equations estimate a nearly constant PM10 value, regardless of the visibility range. A comparison between the PM10 spatial distributions derived from visibility SYNOP observations through IZO-Eq, the modelled values from the NMMB/BSC-Dust model and aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieved from MODIS is performed for the 2006–2008 period. The different spatial distributions present a rather good agreement among them as well as to reproduce the characteristic seasonal dust features over North Africa.