Aerosol Distributions and Sahara Dust Transport in Southern Morocco, from Ground-Based and Satellite Observations

Bencherif, Hassan ; Bounhir, Aziza ; Bègue, Nelson ; Millet, Tristan ; Benkhaldoun, Zouhair ; Lamy, Kévin ; Portafaix, Thierry ; Gadouali, Fouad

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<p align=justify>The present study investigates aerosols distributions and a strong Sahara dust-storm event that occurred by early August 2018, in the South of Morocco. We used columnar aerosol optical depth (AOD), Angstrom Exponent (AE) and volume size distributions (VSD) as derived from ground-based observations by 2 AERONET (AErosol RObotic NETwork) sun-photometers at Saada (31.63°N, 8.16°W) and Ouarzazate (30.93°N, 6.91°W) sites, over the periods 2004-2019 and 2012-2015, respectively. The monthly seasonal distributions of AOD, AE, and VSD showed a seasonal trend dominated by the annual cycle, with a maximum aerosol load during summer (July-August) and a minimum in winter (December-January), characterized by a coarse mode near the radius of 2.59 μm and a fine mode at the radius of 0.16 μm, respectively. Indeed, this study showed that aerosol populations in southern Morocco are dominated by Saharan desert dust, especially during the summer season. The latter can sometimes be subject of dust-storm events. The case study presented in this paper reports on one of these events, which happened in early August 2018. The HYSPLIT (HYbrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory) model was used to simulate air-mass back-trajectories during the event. In agreement with ground-based (AERONET sun-photometers) and satellite (CALIOP, MODIS and AIRS) observations, HYSPLIT back-trajectories showed that the dust air-mass at the 4-km layer, the average height of the dust plume, has crossed southern Morocco over the Saada site, with a westward direction towards the Atlantic Ocean, before it changed northward up to the Portuguese coasts.</p>
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