Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH: ATMOSPHERES, VOL. 118, 12,139–12,157, doi:10.1002/2013JD020644, 2013


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


The transport and vertical distribution of smoke and dust aerosols over the northern sub-Saharan African region are simulated in the Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem), which uses hourly dynamic smoke emissions from the Fire Locating and Modeling of Burning Emissions database derived fromthe Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) fire products. Model performance for February 2008 is evaluated using MODIS true color images, aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements from the Aerosol Robotic Network, MODIS AOD retrievals, and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar data with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) atmospheric backscattering and extinction products. Specification of smoke injection height of 650m in WRF-Chem yields aerosol vertical profiles that are most consistent with CALIOP observations of aerosol layer height. Between the equator and 10°N, Saharan dust is often mixed with smoke near the surface, and their transport patterns manifest the interplay of trade winds, subtropical highs, precipitation associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the high mountains located near the Great Rift Valley region. At the 700 hPa level and above, smoke layers spread farther to the north and south and are often above the dust layers over the Sahel region. In some cases, transported smoke can also be mixed with dust over the Saharan region. Statistically, 5% of the CALIOP valid measurements in February 2007–2011 show aerosol layers either above or between the clouds, reinforcing the importance of the aerosol vertical distribution for quantifying aerosol impact on climate in the Sahel region.