Subseasonal Variability of Elevated Dust Concentrations Over South Florida

S. J. Kramer, B. P. Kirtman, P. Zuidema, F. Ngan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dust mass concentrations have been measured daily at Miami, Florida, in the summer months, and biweekly throughout the remaining months, since 1974. The 43-year record of dust mass concentrations indicate large daily, seasonal, and interannual variations, with most of the dust arriving within 5–8 episodes each summer. On average, dust arrives to Miami, Florida, 10 days after emission from North Africa, with measured concentrations depending on characteristics of the lower free-tropospheric winds due to the vast travel distance. Daily dust mass concentrations from July and August, the months that contribute the most to the annual mean, are used to characterize the synoptic conditions most favorable for dust transport. Two key regions are linked with the highest daily dust mass concentrations above Miami: (i) easterly winds, averaged over 850–500 mb, over the Tropical West Atlantic [15–25°N, 45–80°W], and (ii) southerly winds, similarly averaged, over the Florida Peninsula [20–30°N,75–80°W]. Winds within these two regions are enhanced when the North Atlantic subtropical high is displaced south and zonally elongated, relocating the western edge over Florida. A dust-transport-efficiency index, based on the maximum potential for dust to arrive above Miami with limited loss to deposition or mixing, identifies high-dust loading cases on the subseasonal scale. Monthly dust-transport-efficiency values agree well with the monthly dust trends over the 43-year time span. While seasonal dust loadings have been decreasing over Florida in the past decade, the transport efficiency has been increasing, possibly due to trends in the North Atlantic subtropical high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JD031874
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 27 2020


  • North Atlantic subtropical high
  • Saharan dust
  • long range transport
  • seasonal variability
  • subseasonal variability
  • tropical meteorology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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