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Dust storm trends in Africa

Posted: Thu Mar 03, 2022 4:16 pm America/New_York
by EarthdataForumContributor
(Edited user inquiry)
I am researching to what extent dust storm occurrence trends in Africa have been impacted by climate change. I am reaching out because I hope you have data or ideas to share towards this goal due to your work at GES DISC: I am specifically interested in evidence for any ‘unusual’ change over the last 50 years (change in intensity, seasonality, duration or frequency are of most interest to my research). I look for direct dust measurements, meteorological data, satellite imagery etc..

My plan for this research is to collect as much data on trends of dust storms in Africa as possible, as far back as possible to more recent years. Keeping in mind that data availability for the whole African continent will be limited, I might narrow down my region of research according to data accessibility. From collected data, I will investigate observed changes in frequency, intensity and others more thoroughly and compare trends to general climate change trends. Additionally, I aim to investigate the specific hazard impacts of dust storms on local population by investigating a specific hazard event (a small case study) through working with satellite imagery analysis. This comes from my own interest in natural hazard mitigation and adaptation methods.

Re: Dust storm trends in Africa

Posted: Thu Mar 03, 2022 4:20 pm America/New_York
by EarthdataForumContributor
(Reply from GES DISC staff member expert on dust and aerosol data)
I am glad to help you facilitate your bachelor thesis by recommending the relevant datasets and data tools at GES DISC.

Without knowing your programming skill, I will first recommend to you an easy but powerful tool, Giovanni.

1) Data tool
I will recommend you to first try the Giovanni Here are the reasons: a) Various datasets of your interest are stored in Giovanni, meaning that you don’t need to download data; b) Giovanni is an interactive visualization web tool with plenty of plotting options (click “Select Plot” from the website above), and you can easily visualize the data without writing the scripts.

2) Variables and Datasets
In Giovanni, you can search variable names such as “dust”(without quotation) to find all datasets containing this variable. In the returns, you will see the information of each dataset such as its source, temporal resolution, and time range, which help you further narrow down your selection. I would suggest you narrow down your searching by specifying your datasets as monthly, e.g., searching “dust, monthly” (without quotation).

In summary, I will recommended you to start your research by using the monthly variables below:

Variable Sources
Dust related variables “MERRA-2 models”
“AOD 550nm” “MERRA-2 models”, or “MODIS-Terra”, “MODIS-Aqua”, or “MISR”, SeaWiFS
“Wind speed” “MERRA-2 models”

Just for your information (since it is beyond the scope of our service at GES DISC): The paper below might give you some useful information on each source above (section 3.1) and the trend of dust and its connection with climate change (section 5.2).

Chin, M. et al.: Multi-decadal variations of atmospheric aerosols from 1980 to 2009: a perspective from observations and a global model, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3657-3690, 2014.