Map of the mid Atlantic showing comparison between models and observations of where Saharan dust deposition occurs
Comparison between models and observations of where Saharan dust deposition occurs. The westernmost observation is from Barbados, where dust fluxes have been measured for over 50 years. Credit: Yu et al. [2020], Figure 1a
Source: Geophysical Research Letters

Saharan dust is carried across the Atlantic, settling in the Caribbean in northern hemisphere summer and the Amazon basin in winter. Due to its high content in nutrients such as phosphorus, Saharan dust is thought to play a fundamental role in fertilizing the Amazon.

Yu et al. [2020] utilize a wealth of measurements and methods to present a new idea about the origin of this Saharan dust. Using a careful combination of observations, from multiple satellites and in situ, as well as trajectory modeling, and taking into account dry and wet deposition, the authors demonstrate that the origin of this dust is the West African El Djouf region rather than the Bodélé depression in Chad as previously thought. The remarkable match between the multi-sensor observations and modeled trajectories increases the confidence in the analysis, which sheds light on an important biogeochemical process.

Citation: Yu, Y., Kalashnikova, O. V., Garay, M. J., Lee, H., Notaro, M., Campbell, J. R., et al. [2020]. Disproving the Bodélé depression as the primary source of dust fertilizing the Amazon Rainforest. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL088020.

—Alessandra Giannini, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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