Pivotal role of the North African Dipole Intensity (NAFDI) on alternate Saharan dust export over the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and relationship with the Saharan Heat Low and mid-latitude Rossby waves
Abstract. In this study, we revise the index that quantifies the North African Dipole Intensity (NAFDI), and explain its relationship with the Saharan Heat Low (SHL) and mid-latitude Rossby waves. We find outstanding similarities of meteorological patterns associated with the positive NAFDI and the SHL West-phase on the one hand, and with the negative NAFDI and the SHL East-Phase, on the other hand. We introduce the daily NAFDI index and the daily SHL West-East Displacement Index (SHLWEDI). The Pearson correlation coefficient between the daily SHLWEDI 1-day lagged and the daily NAFDI for the period 1980–2013 20 June–17 September is fairly high (r = 0.77). The correlation reduces to 0.69 if the SHLWEDI is not lagged. We observe that the SHL West-phase is significantly more frequent than the SHL East-phase, and that the SHL is more intense during its East-phase. We find positive aerosol optical depth (AOD) anomalies in the Western Sahara during positive NAFDI/SHL West-phase, and negative AOD anomalies in the central and eastern Sahara during negative NAFDI/SHL East-phase. A significant positive (negative) NE-SW axis AOD anomaly over the Subtropical North Atlantic for positive (negative) NAFDI is found. Remarkable patterns of positive (negative) AOD anomalies over the tropical Atlantic and the Central-Western Mediterranean during negative (positive) NAFDI are observed. The impact of mid-latitude Rossby waves on NAFDI variations depends on both the amplitude and phase of the Rossby wave at 200–300 hPa, which is quantified in this study by the daily Zonal Wind Anomaly at 300 hPa over South Morocco (ZWA300), and the penetration of the Rossby wave into the lower troposphere, quantified by the daily Omega at 500 hPa over Northwest Algeria (O500). The correlation of both ZWA300 and O500 with NAFDI is significant: 0.48 and 0.53, respectively, when we apply 5-day running means to the time series before calculating the correlation coefficients, and increases to 0.66 when a multi-linear regression is performed. The results suggest that ZWA300 drives almost one day in advance the NAFDI, whereas O500 might be ahead respect to NAFDI less than 12 hours. The power spectra of the NAFDI, SHL, ZWA300 and O500 times series in the intermediate time scale range (between 10 and 30 days) show 10 especially intense NAFDI spectral peaks, most of them also present in the SHLWEDI spectrum, finding that for many of the NAFDI/SHLWEDI peaks there is associated an O500 and/or ZWA300 peak. Our results indicate that the modes of oscillation of both the NAFDI and the SHL are driven by those mid-latitudes Rossby waves that go deep enough into the lower troposphere imposing their perturbation to the background meteorological fields. A comprehensive top-down conceptual model is introduced to explain the relationships between the NAFDI, the SHL and the mid-latitude Rossby waves and their impact in dust mobilization and transport in Northern Africa.
E. Cuevas et al.
E. Cuevas et al.
E. Cuevas et al.
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