Saharan mineral dust transport into the Caribbean: Observed atmospheric controls and trends

O. M. Doherty, N. Riemer, S. Hameed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Each summer large amounts of mineral dust from the Sahara are transported across the Atlantic and arrive at the Caribbean with far-reaching implications for climate in this region. In this paper we analyze summer season interannual variability of North African mineral dust over the Caribbean using the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS)/Nimbus 7 (1979-1992) and TOMS/Earth Probe (1998-2000) satellite aerosol data. We apply the "centers of action" approach to gain insight into the atmospheric controls on Saharan dust transport into the Caribbean and identify longitudinal displacement and pressure fluctuation of the Hawaiian High as well as longitudinal displacement of the Azores High as key players. In contrast, traditional indices such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation are not correlated with the mineral dust variations over the Caribbean region. We utilize National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis to investigate the underlying physical mechanisms and to identify meteorological conditions that correspond to high and low dust loads. Our analysis shows that two different transport routes from distinct source regions are responsible for transporting mineral dust into the Caribbean: a northern mode in which dust mobilized from the Sahara travels westward controlled primarily by the Azores High and a southern mode in which intense dust clouds originating in the Sahel region travel over the Gulf of Guinea to reach the Caribbean. The latter is controlled primarily by teleconnections with the Hawaiian High.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD07211
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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