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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 850704, 9 pages
Research Article

The Three-Dimensional Structure of Transatlantic African Dust Transport: A New Perspective from CALIPSO LIDAR Measurements

1Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Composition and Optical Radiation, Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, Anhui 230031, China
2Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82072, USA

Received 20 January 2012; Revised 17 August 2012; Accepted 23 August 2012

Academic Editor: Achuthan Jayaraman

Copyright © 2012 Dong Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The lack of information on the vertical distribution of dust, in turn, results in large uncertainties when attempting to evaluate the impacts of dust on climate processes. We analyzed over two years of LIDAR measurements from NASA’s CALIPSO and CloudSat satellites to document the vertical pathways of transatlantic transport of Saharan dust. Our analysis overcomes the limitations of quantitative dust detections with passive satellite measurements over land and low clouds and provides the fine vertical resolved structures. The results show the strong seasonal shift in dust source regions and transportation pathways due to the meteorological and thermodynamical conditions, which also control the dust vertical distribution as well as the depth of the dust layer. The dust layer top descending rates of 35 m/degree in summer, 25 m/degree in autumn and spring, and 10 m/degree in winter are found, respectively, while the dust is being transported across the Atlantic. Comparison with the model simulation highlights the potentials of dust observations using CALIPSO LIDAR. The observed seasonal dependence of these pathways gives new insights into the transport of the Saharan dust and provides important guidance for simulations of the production and transport of the global dust aerosol.