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Keywords:

  • dust;
  • visibility;
  • satellite retrievals

[1] This study presents a detailed examination of east Asian dust events during March–April of 2001, by combining satellite multisensor observation (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS)) meteorological data from weather stations in China and Mongolia and the Pennsylania State University/National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Modeling System (MM5) driven by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Reanalysis data. The main goal is to determine the extent to which the routine surface meteorological observations (including visibility) and satellite data can be used to characterize the spatiotemporal distribution of dust plumes at a range of scales. We also examine the potential of meteorological time series for constraining the dust emission schemes used in aerosol transport models. Thirty-five dust events were identified in the source region during March and April of 2001 and characterized on a case-by-case basis. The midrange transport routes were reconstructed on the basis of visibility observations and observed and MM5-predicted winds with further validation against satellite data. We demonstrate that the combination of visibility data, TOMS aerosol index, MODIS aerosol optical depth over the land, and a qualitative analysis of MODIS and SeaWiFS imagery enables us to constrain the regions of origin of dust outbreaks and midrange transport, though various limitations of individual data sets were revealed in detecting dust over the land. Only two long-range transport episodes were found. The transport routes and coverage of these dust episodes were reconstructed by using MODIS aerosol optical depth and TOMS aerosol index. Our analysis reveals that over the oceans the presence of persistent clouds poses a main problem in identifying the regions affected by dust transport, so only partial reconstruction of dust transport routes reaching the west coast of the United States was possible.