Transport of North African dust from the Bodélé depression to the Amazon Basin: a case study
1Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
2Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil
3School of Engineering and Applied Sciences & Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
4Biogeochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Through long-range transport of dust, the North-African desert supplies essential minerals to the Amazon rain forest. Since North African dust reaches South America mostly during the Northern Hemisphere winter, the dust sources active during winter are the main contributors to the forest. Given that the Bodélé depression area in southwestern Chad is the main winter dust source, a close link is expected between the Bodélé emission patterns and volumes and the mineral supply flux to the Amazon.
Until now, the particular link between the Bodélé and the Amazon forest was based on sparse satellite measurements and modeling studies. In this study, we combine a detailed analysis of space-borne and ground data with reanalysis model data and surface measurements taken in the central Amazon during the Amazonian Aerosol Characterization Experiment (AMAZE-08) in order to explore the validity and the nature of the proposed link between the Bodélé depression and the Amazon forest.
This case study follows the dust events of 11–16 and 18–27 February 2008, from the emission in the Bodélé over West Africa (most likely with contribution from other dust sources in the region) the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, to the observed effects above the Amazon canopy about 10 days after the emission. The dust was lifted by surface winds stronger than 14 m s−1, usually starting early in the morning. The lofted dust, mixed with biomass burning aerosols over Nigeria, was transported over the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived over the South American continent. The top of the aerosol layer reached above 3 km, and the bottom merged with the boundary layer. The arrival of the dusty air parcel over the Amazon forest increased the average concentration of aerosol crustal elements by an order of magnitude.