New insights into the vertical structure of the September 2015 dust storm employing eight ceilometers and auxiliary measurements over Israel
Abstract. On 7 September 2015, an unprecedented and unexceptional extreme dust storm struck the eastern Mediterranean (EM) basin. Here, we provide an overview of the previous studies and describe the dust plume evolution over a relatively small area, i.e., Israel. This study presents vertical profiles provided by an array of eight ceilometers covering the Israeli shore, inland and mountain regions. We employ multiple tools including spectral radiometers (Aerosol Robotic Network – AERONET), ground particulate matter concentrations, satellite images, global/diffuse/direct solar radiation measurements and radiosonde profiles. The main findings reveal that the dust plume penetrated Israel on 7 September from the northeast in a downward motion to southwest. On 8 September, the lower level of the dust plume reached 200 m above ground level, generating aerosol optical depth (AOD) above 3 and extreme ground particulate matter concentrations up to ∼ 10 000 µm m−3. A most interesting feature on 8 September was the very high variability in the surface solar radiation in the range of 200–600 W m−2 (22 sites) over just a distance of several hundred kilometers in spite of the thick dust layer above. Furthermore, 8 September shows the lowest radiation levels for this event. On the following day, the surface solar radiation increased, thus enabling a late (between 11:00 and 12:00 UTC) sea breeze development mainly in the coastal zone associated with a creation of a narrow dust layer detached from the ground. On 10 September, the AOD values started to drop down to ∼ 1.5, and the surface concentrations of particulate matter decreased as well as the ceilometers' aerosol indications (signal counts) although Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) revealed an upper dust layer remained.