Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Radiative properties of aerosols in Saharan dust outbreaks using ground-based and satellite data: Applications to radiative forcing


  • Juan P. Díaz,

  • Francisco J. Expósito,

  • Carlos J. Torres,

  • Félix Herrera,

  • Joseph M. Prospero,

  • María C. Romero


We report on measurements of atmospheric transmission (ATT) and aerosol optical depth (AODT) made at three wavelengths (368, 500, and 778 nm) with a spectroradiometer placed on Tenerife (28.5°N, 16.3°W), Canary Islands. Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) channel 1, we also measured the aerosol optical depth (AODS) and albedo over a region of the North Atlantic Ocean extending from 15°–35°N to 12°–25°W. We observe large changes in ATT and AODT when dust outbreaks pass over this region. Using all these data, we derive the asymmetry factor (g), the single-scattering albedo (ω), and the local mean AODT and we compute the direct radiative forcing ΔF attributable to mineral dust. The local radiative forcing obtained is over the ocean ΔF = −9.7 W/m2 and for the land ΔF = −4.5 W/m2 with an error of ±25%. Extending these results to global-scale averages, we obtain values of ΔF of −1.22 W/m2 over the ocean and −0.57 W/m2 over land. The forcings attributable to dust are comparable in magnitude to those reported in the literature for anthropogenic sulphate and for biomass burning aerosols.