CALIPSO-Derived three-dimensional structure of aerosol over the atlantic basin and adjacent continents

Aaron M. Adams, Joseph M. Prospero, Chidong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Accurate modeling of the impact of aerosols on climate requires a detailed understanding of the vertical distribution of aerosols. The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) provides continuous high-resolution vertical profiles of aerosol properties on a near-global scale. Here the CALIPSO Vertical Feature Mask is used to document the three-dimensional (3D) frequency-of-occurrence distribution of aerosols over a broad region of the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The 3D distributions illustrate the seasonal cycle in the zonal and meridional variability of the vertical profiles of mineral dust, biomass-burning smoke, polluted dust (externalmixture of dust and smoke), and polluted continental aerosol, and also of their emissions sources and transport pathways. Four aerosol domains stand out in the product: dust over NorthAfrica and theMiddle East and smoke over southern Africa and South America. The transport pathways of African dust and smoke over theAtlantic are evident. The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) plays a clear role in limiting the southward transport ofNorthAfrican dust and northward transport of SouthAfrican smoke. Dust and smoke aremixed in the ITCZ and consequently the highest probability of polluted dust is found there, even though the probabilities of dust and smoke in this region are relatively low. The mixing of dust and pollution has significant implications for cloud microphysical processes over a broad region of the Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6862-6879
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerosols
  • Africa
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Climatology
  • Intertropical convergence zone
  • South America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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