Cooling of the Atlantic by Saharan dust



[1] Using aerosol optical depth, sea surface temperature, top-of-the-atmosphere solar radiation flux, and oceanic mixed-layer depth from diverse data sources that include NASA satellites, NCEP reanalysis, in situ observations, as well as long-term dust records from Barbados, we examine the possible relationships between Saharan dust and Atlantic sea surface temperature. Results show that the estimated anomalous cooling pattern of the Atlantic during June 2006 relative to June 2005 due to attenuation of surface solar radiation by Saharan dust remarkably resemble observations, accounting for approximately 30–40% of the observed change in sea surface temperature. Historical data analysis show that there is a robust negative correlation between atmospheric dust loading and Atlantic SST consistent with the notion that increased (decreased) Saharan dust is associated with cooling (warming) of the Atlantic during the early hurricane season (July–August–September).