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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  27 Jul 2020

27 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

The Electrical Activity of Saharan Dust as perceived from Surface Electric Field Observations in Greece

Vasiliki Daskalopoulou1,2, Sotirios A. Mallios2, Zbigniew Ulanowski3,4, George Hloupis5, Anna Gialitaki2,6, Konstantinos Tassis7,8, and Vassilis Amiridis2 Vasiliki Daskalopoulou et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, Faculty of Astrophysics and Space Physics, University of Crete, Heraklion GR-70013, Greece
  • 2Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, Athens GR-15236, Greece
  • 3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, NERC, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
  • 5Department of Surveying and GeoInformatics Engineering, University of West Attica, Aegaleo Campus GR-12244, Greece
  • 6Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Department of Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki GR-54124, Greece
  • 7Department of Physics, and Institute for Theoretical and Computational Physics, University of Crete, Heraklion GR-70013, Greece
  • 8Institute of Astrophysics, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas, Heraklion GR-71110, Greece

Abstract. We report on the electric field variations during Saharan dust advection over two atmospheric remote stations in Greece, using synergistic observations of the vertical atmospheric electric field strength (Ez) at ground and the lidar-derived particle backscatter coefficient profiles. Both parameters were monitored for the first time with the simultaneous deployment of a ground-based field mill electrometer and a multiwavelength lidar system. The field mill timeseries are processed to extract the diurnal variations of the Global Electric Circuit and remove fast field perturbations due to peak lightning activity. In order to identify the influence of the elevated dust layers on the ground Ez, we extract a Localized Reference Electric Field from the timeseries that reflects the local fair weather activity. Then, we compare it with the reconstructed daily average behaviour of the electric field and the Saharan dust layers' evolution, as depicted by the lidar system. Reported cases of enhanced vertical electric field for detached pure dust layers suggest the presence of in-layer electric charges. Although higher dust loads are expected to result in electric field enhancement, episodic cases that reduce the electric field are also observed. To quantitatively approach our results, we examine the dependency of Ez against theoretical assumptions for the distribution of separated charges within the electrified dust layer. Electrically neutral dust is approximated by atmospheric conductivity reduction, while charge separation areas within electrically active dust layers are approximated as finite extent cylinders. This physical approximation constitutes a more realistic description of the distribution of charges, as opposed to infinite extent geometries, and allows for analytical solutions of the electric field strength, so that observed electric field variations during the monitored dust outbreaks can be explained.

Vasiliki Daskalopoulou et al.

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  • RC1: 'Comments', Konstantinos Kourtidis, 19 Aug 2020 Printer-friendly Version
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Vasiliki Daskalopoulou et al.

Data sets

The Electrical Activity of Saharan Dust as perceived from Surface Electric Field Observations in Greece: Field Mill Datasets Vasiliki Daskalopoulou, George Hloupis, Sotirios A. Mallios, Zbigniew Ulanowski, Vassilis Amiridis

Vasiliki Daskalopoulou et al.


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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This research highlights the detection of charged Saharan dust in Greece and provides indications of charge separation in the plumes through the first ever co-located ground electric field measurements and sophisticated lidar observations. We provide a robust methodology for the extraction of a fair weather proxy field, used to assess the effect of lofted dust particles to the electric field and insert a realistic modelling aspect to the charge accumulation areas within electrically active dust.
This research highlights the detection of charged Saharan dust in Greece and provides...