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Saharan Weather, Climate and Dust (co-organized)
Convener: Claire Ryder  | Co-Conveners: Helen Brindley , Cyrille Flamant 
 / Fri, 12 Apr, 08:30–12:00  / Room B10
 / Attendance Fri, 12 Apr, 13:30–15:00  / Yellow Posters

The central Sahara has one of the most extreme climates on Earth. During the northern summer months, a large low pressure system caused by intense solar heating develops over a huge, largely uninhabited expanse of northern Mali, southern Algeria and eastern Mauritania. Temperatures in the high 40s with dry convection reaching 6 km are routine, in what is thought to be the deepest such boundary layer on the planet. This large zone is also where the thickest layer of dust anywhere in the Earth's atmosphere is found, impacting both shortwave and longwave radiation. The atmospheric aerosol loading and thermodynamics over the Sahara are unique, and have major impacts on the climate of the whole North African sector, Europe and the Atlantic. The Saharan heat low drives the West African Monsoon and the dry, dusty air layers affect the tropical cyclones which form over the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its importance, the inhospitable, vast area of the Saharan Heat Low has virtually no routine meteorological observations.

This session centres on recent advances in understanding the Saharan climate system, including those made within the ongoing Fennec project. Fennec is a large-scale, international, multi-institutional, multi-platform, observational, modelling and satellite climate program in the Saharan heat low region. It is designed to address knowledge deficits associated with an absence of central Saharan measurements and is the first major climate program in the central Sahara. This session will encompass research on all aspects of weather, climate and mineral dust in Saharan Africa, and connections to the Mediterranean and the West African Monsoon. Contributions examining the interactions between Saharan dust, meteorology and climate are particularly encouraged, from both measurement and modelling perspectives. Abstracts from both Fennec project members and non-members are equally welcome.