The 7–13 March 2006 dust storm over West Africa: Generation, transport, and vertical stratification



[1] Several studies have shown the importance of desert dust aerosols in weather forecast models. Nevertheless, desert dust has been poorly represented in such models and is the source of some prediction errors, in particular for tropical and subtropical regions. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the formation and the three-dimensional transport of a severe dust storm which occurred in March 2006 over West Africa. An intense dust haze was transported southward over the Gulf of Guinea thereby generating an aerosol optical thickness (AOT) greater than 4 over Nigeria. The MesoNH mesoscale atmospheric model coupled with new dust parameterization schemes has been used to illustrate the three-dimensional transport of the dust plume and the vertical layering of this desert air mass above the lower atmosphere monsoon flux layer. It is modeled that more than 50 g m−2 of dust was emitted during this event from the surface by a strong Harmattan wind over the Sahel region. It is also shown that when the dust layer is located over the boundary layer, it can modify the atmospheric stability by as much as 9.5 K in terms of potential temperature in the lowest 2000 m of the atmosphere.