Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds

X. Li, H. Maring, D. Savoie, Kenneth Voss, J. M. Prospero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

264 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

ATMOSPHERIC aerosols can affect climate by scattering and absorbing solar radiation1-3. Most recent studies of such effects have focused largely on anthropogenic sulphate aerosols, which are believed to exert a substantial cooling influence2. Mineral dust aerosols have been largely ignored, because it was thought that their scattering efficiency and concentrations were too low to have a substantial effect on climate. Here we report measurements of the light-scattering properties of North African dust delivered to Barbados by the North Atlantic trade winds. Although the mass scattering efficiency of the dust is only about a quarter of that of non-seasalt sulphate over the North Atlantic5, the annual-mean dust concentration in Barbados trade-wind air is 16 times that of non-seasalt sulphate6. The net scattering by mineral dust is therefore about four times that by non-seasalt sulphate aerosols. African mineral dust should therefore be the dominant light-scattering aerosol throughout the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic region. Our observations suggest that mineral dust could be an important climate-forcing agent over this ocean region and in other regions where dust concentrations are high7,8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-419
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume380
Issue number6573
StatePublished - Apr 4 1996

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trade wind
light scattering
aerosol
dust
mineral
scattering
sulfate
climate forcing
climate
cooling
air
ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Li, X., Maring, H., Savoie, D., Voss, K., & Prospero, J. M. (1996). Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds. Nature, 380(6573), 416-419.

Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds. / Li, X.; Maring, H.; Savoie, D.; Voss, Kenneth; Prospero, J. M.

In: Nature, Vol. 380, No. 6573, 04.04.1996, p. 416-419.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Li, X, Maring, H, Savoie, D, Voss, K & Prospero, JM 1996, 'Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds', Nature, vol. 380, no. 6573, pp. 416-419.
Li X, Maring H, Savoie D, Voss K, Prospero JM. Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds. Nature. 1996 Apr 4;380(6573):416-419.
Li, X. ; Maring, H. ; Savoie, D. ; Voss, Kenneth ; Prospero, J. M. / Dominance of mineral dust in aerosol light-scattering in the North Atlantic trade winds. In: Nature. 1996 ; Vol. 380, No. 6573. pp. 416-419.
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