Satellite climatology of African dust transport in the Mediterranean atmosphere


  • C. Moulin,

  • C. E. Lambert,

  • U. Dayan,

  • V. Masson,

  • M. Ramonet,

  • P. Bousquet,

  • M. Legrand,

  • Y. J. Balkanski,

  • W. Guelle,

  • B. Marticorena,

  • G. Bergametti,

  • F. Dulac


A daily analysis of African dust concentrations in the Mediterranean atmosphere has been made between June 1983 and December 1994 using the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP-B2) archive of Meteosat visible (VIS) channel images. The ISCCP-B2 archive of Meteosat infrared (IR) images has also been used to determine the frequencies of dust mobilization over the continent, north of 30°N. Despite a large daily variability, climatological results show a clear seasonal cycle with a maximum during the dry season: dust transport begins over the eastern basin in spring and spreads over the western basin in summer. These patterns are shown to be related to both cyclogenesis over North Africa and rainfall over the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, the frequency of dust mobilization over the continent and of dust outbreaks over the sea are strongly related to the climatology of depressions affecting North Africa. Precipitations appear to be an important factor explaining both the seasonal east-west shift in transport location and the south-north gradients of dust concentrations over the Mediterranean.