In May/June 2006, the largest mineral dust experiment to date (Saharan Mineral Dust Experiment, SAMUM-1) was conducted in Southern Morocco. The aim was to characterize dust particles near the world's largest mineral dust source, and to quantify dust-related radiative effects. At one of the two ground-based measurement sites dust particle size distribution, optical, hygroscopic, chemical and structural particle characteristics were measured. One research aircraft mainly measured solar spectral irradiances and surface albedo. The other aircraft provided in situ physical aerosol measurements and samples and lidar profiles through the dust layers. Three ground-based lidars were operated at the second ground-based measurement site. They determined optical dust properties, particle shape and temporal development of dust layers. Columnar, ground-based sun photometer measurements complemented the lidar data. Additionally a station in Évora, Portugal monitored dust outbreaks from the North African source region to the Iberian Peninsula during SAMUM-1.

Volumetric and columnar closure exercises utilized these detailed measurements of dust characteristics together with optical and radiative transfer models. Concurrent developments of a mesoscale dust transport model were validated with the experimental data. The paper gives an overview over rationale and design of SAMUM-1, introduces and highlights the subsequent reports on experimental and modelling results.