The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program is placing a new, portable atmospheric laboratory with sophisticated instruments and data systems in Niger, Africa, to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts of Saharan dust on global climate.
Dust from Africa’s Sahara desert--the largest source of dust on the planet--reaches halfway around the globe. Carried by winds and clouds, the dust travels through West African, Mediterranean, and European skies, and across the Atlantic into North America. Unfortunately, Africa is one of the most under-sampled climate regimes in the world, leaving scientists to wonder about its contribution to global climate.
"As a point of origin for atmospheric disturbances that evolve into Atlantic storms, the Sahara is not only a driving force for the environmental conditions in Western Africa, but also for the development of weather systems that can reach the United States," said Dr. Raymond Orbach, Director of DOE’s Office of Science. "Our ability to predict the impact of the Saharan dust on weather and climate is dependent on gathering accurate and long-term data sets for computer models that simulate these effects."
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