Seasonality in Saharan Dust Across the Atlantic Ocean: From Atmospheric Transport to Seafloor Deposition

M. van der Does, G.-J.A. Brummer, L.F. Korte, J.-B.W. Stuut

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2021. The Authors.Saharan dust is transported in great quantities from the North African continent every year, most of which is deposited across the North Atlantic Ocean. This dust impacts regional and global climate by affecting the atmospheric radiation balance and altering ocean carbon budgets. However, little research has been carried out on time series of Saharan dust collected in situ across the open Atlantic. Here, we present a unique three-year time series of Saharan dust along a trans-Atlantic transect, sampled by moored surface buoys and subsurface sediment traps. Results show a good correlation between the particle-size distributions of atmospheric dust and the lithogenic particles settling to the deep ocean floor, confirming the aeolian origin of the lithogenic particles intercepted by the subsurface sediment traps, even in the distal western part of the Atlantic Ocean. Dust from both dry and wet deposition as collected by the sediment traps, shows increased deposition fluxes and coarser grain size in summer and/or autumn that coincides with increased precipitation at the sampling sites as derived from satellite data. In contrast, both buoys that sampled dust during transport at sea level show little seasonal variation in both concentration and particle size, as the large amounts of dust transported in summer and early autumn at high altitudes are far above their sampling range. This implies that wet deposition in summer and autumn defines the typical seasonal trends of both the dust deposition flux and its particle-size distribution observed in the sediment traps.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JD034614
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2021


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