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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-378
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-378
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  16 Jun 2020

16 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

African Dust Particles over the Western Caribbean Part I: Impact on air quality over the Yucatan Peninsula

Carolina Ramirez-Romero1, Alejandro Jaramillo1, Maria F. Cordoba1,2, Graciela B. Raga1, Javier Miranda3, Harry Alvarez-Ospina4, Daniel Rosas5, Talib Amador5, Jong Sung Kim6, Jacqueline Yakobi-Hancock6, Darrel Baumgardner7, and Luis A. Ladino1 Carolina Ramirez-Romero et al.
  • 1Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2Posgrado en Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 3Instituto de Física, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 4Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 5Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan, Merida, Yucatán, Mexico
  • 6Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 7Droplet Measurement Technologies, Colorado, USA

Abstract. On a global scale, African dust is known as one of the major sources of mineral dust particles as they can be efficiently transported to different parts of the planet. Several studies have suggested that the Yucatan Peninsula could be influenced by such particles, especially in July, associated with the strengthening of the Caribbean low level jet. Although these particles have the potential to impact the local air quality significantly, as shown elsewhere (especially particulate matter, PM), the arrival and the impact of African dust into Mexican territory has not been quantitatively reported to date.

Two short-term field campaigns were conducted to confirm the arrival of African dust onto the Yucatan Peninsula in July 2017 and July 2018 at the city of Merida atmospheric observatory (20.98° N 89.64° W). Aerosol particles were monitored at the ground level by different on-line and off-line sensors. Several PM2.5 and PM10 peaks were observed during both sampling periods, with a relative increase in the PM levels ranging between 200 % and 500 % with respect to the normal background. Given that these peaks were found to highly correlate with super micron particles and chemical elements typically found in mineral dust particles, such as Al, Fe, Si, and K, they are linked with African dust. This conclusion is supported by combining back trajectories with vertical profiles from radiosondes, reanalysis, and satellite images to show that the origin of the air masses arriving at Merida was the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). The good agreement found between the measured PM>sub>10 concentrations and the estimated dust mixing ratio content from MERRA-2 (Version 2 of the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications) corroborates the conclusion that the degradation of the local (and likely regional) air quality in Merida is a result of the arrival of African dust.

Carolina Ramirez-Romero et al.

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Short summary
Field measurements were conducted to confirm the arrival of African dust onto the Yucatan Peninsula. Aerosol particles were monitored at the ground level by different on-line and off-line sensors. Several particulate matter peaks were observed with a relative increase in their levels up to 500 % with respect to the background. Based on the chemical composition, back trajectories, vertical profiles, reanalysis, and satellite images it was found that the peaks are linked with African dust.
Field measurements were conducted to confirm the arrival of African dust onto the Yucatan...
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