Observations of Saharan dust microphysical and optical properties from the Eastern Atlantic during NAMMA airborne field campaign
Abstract. As part of the international project entitled "African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA)", NAMMA (NASA AMMA) aimed to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the African Easterly Waves (AEWs), the Sahara Air Layer (SAL), and tropical cyclogenesis. The NAMMA airborne field campaign was based out of the Cape Verde Islands during the peak of the hurricane season, i.e., August and September 2006. Multiple Sahara dust layers were sampled during 62 encounters in the eastern portion of the hurricane main development region, covering both the eastern North Atlantic Ocean and the western Saharan desert (i.e., 5–22° N and 10–35° W). The centers of these layers were located at altitudes between 1.5 and 3.3 km and the layer thickness ranged from 0.5 to 3 km. Detailed dust microphysical and optical properties were characterized using a suite of in-situ instruments aboard the NASA DC-8 that included a particle counter, an Ultra-High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer, an Aerodynamic Particle Sizer, a nephelometer, and a Particle Soot Absorption Photometer. The NAAMA sampling inlet has a size cut (i.e., 50% transmission efficiency size) of approximately 4 μm in diameter for dust particles, which limits the representativeness of the NAMMA observational findings. The NAMMA dust observations showed relatively low particle number densities, ranging from 268 to 461 cm−3, but highly elevated volume density with an average at 45 μm3 cm−3. NAMMA dust particle size distributions can be well represented by tri-modal lognormal regressions. The estimated volume median diameter (VMD) is averaged at 2.1 μm with a small range of variation regardless of the vertical and geographical sampling locations. The Ångström Exponent assessments exhibited strong wavelength dependence for absorption but a weak one for scattering. The single scattering albedo was estimated at 0.97 ± 0.02. The imaginary part of the refractive index for Sahara dust was estimated at 0.0022, with a range from 0.0015 to 0.0044. Closure analysis showed that observed scattering coefficients are highly correlated with those calculated from spherical Mie-Theory and observed dust particle size distributions. These values are generally consistent with literature values reported from studies with similar particle sampling size range.