Contribution to the atmospheric mineral aerosol load from land surface modification


  • Ina Tegen,

  • Inez Fung


An estimation of the contribution of mineral dust from disturbed soils (i.e., soils affected by human activity and/or climate variability) to the total atmospheric mineral aerosol load is presented. A three-dimensional atmospheric dust transport model was used to simulate the distribution of dust optical thickness in response to individual dust sources, which include natural soils known to have been affected by the Saharan/Sahelian boundary shift, cultivation, deforestation, and wind erosion. The distributions extracted from advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) optical thickness retrievals were used to constrain likely source combinations. The results indicate that observed features like the seasonal shift of maximum optical thickness caused by Saharan dust over the Atlantic ocean are best reproduced if disturbed sources contribute 30–50% of the total atmospheric dust loading.