EGU21-12819, updated on 17 Jan 2023
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Addressing the impacts of sand and dust storms in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe for air quality, aviation and solar energy: the DustClim approach to climate services

Athanasios Votsis1, Sara Basart2, Francesca Barnaba3, Enza Di Tomaso2, Anders Lindfors1, Lucia Mona4, Michalis Mytilinaios4, Paola Formenti5, Tuukka Rautio1, Yijun Wang1, Ernest Werner6, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando2,7
Athanasios Votsis et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche-Istituto di Scienze dell’Atmosfera e del Clima (CNR-ISAC), Italy
  • 4Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche-Istituto di Metodologie per l’Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA), Italy
  • 5LISA, UMR CNRS 7583, Université Paris-Est-Créteil, Université de Paris, Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL), Créteil, France
  • 6State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), Spain
  • 7ICREA, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, Barcelona, Spain

Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) are extreme meteorological phenomena associated with high amounts of atmospheric mineral dust. SDS are an essential element of the Earth’s natural biogeochemical cycles but are also partly caused by human factors including anthropogenic climate change and unsustainable land and water management; in turn, SDS contribute to climate change and air pollution. SDS have become a serious global concern in recent decades due to their significant impacts on the environment, health, agriculture, livelihoods, and the economy. The impacts are felt throughout the developed and developing world and their mitigation is aligned with several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. There has been an ever-increasing need for accurate information and predictions on SDS—particularly over desert regions such as the Sahara and in the Middle East—to support early warning systems as well as preparedness and mitigation plans, in addition to growing interest from diverse stakeholders and policymakers in the solar energy, health, environment and aviation sectors. 

The ongoing ERA4CS ‘Dust Storms Assessment for the development of user-oriented Climate services in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe’ (DustClim) project is enhancing our knowledge of the ways SDS affect society by producing and delivering an advanced dust regional model reanalysis for N. Africa, the Middle East and Europe, based on the MONARCH chemical weather prediction system (Pérez et al. 2011; Di Tomaso et al. 2017) and satellite retrievals over dust source regions, and by developing dust-related services tailored to strategic planning, operations, and policy-making in the air quality, aviation, and solar energy sectors.  

In this contribution, we will present how the resulting dust reanalysis is used as the basis to understand the mid-to-long-term impacts and implications of operating (and regulating) in risky sand and dust environments, namely: (1) the mineral dust component of air quality and its health and regulatory implications; (2) aircraft and airport operations, maintenance and planning; (3) strategic investment and operations optimization in solar energy. We will present our development approach that integrates scientific, industrial and regulatory knowledge, addressing ‘objective threats’ in dialogue with industry partners and public stakeholders (Votsis et al. 2020). Finally, we present an overview of the developed portfolio of SDS climate services for the three aforementioned sectors.


The authors acknowledge DustClim project, part of ERA4CS, an ERA-NET initiated by JPI Climate, and funded by FORMAS (SE), DLR (DE), BMWFW (AT), IFD (DK), MINECO (ES), ANR (FR) with co-funding by the European Union (435690462); PRACE (eDUST, eFRAGMENT1, eFRAGMENT2); RES (AECT-2020-3-0013) for awarding access to MareNostrum at BSC and for technical support.


Di Tomaso, E. et al. (2017): Assimilation of MODIS Dark Target and Deep Blue observations in the dust aerosol component of NMMB-MONARCH version 1.0, Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 1107-1129, doi:10.5194/gmd-10-1107-2017.

Pérez, C. et al. (2011): An online mineral dust aerosol model for meso to global scales: Model description, annual simulations and evaluation, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 13001-13027, doi: 10.5194/acp-11-13001-2011.

Votsis, A. et al. (2020): Operational risks of sand and dust storms in aviation and solar energy: the DustClim approach, FMI's Climate Bulletin: Research Letters 1/2020, doi: 10.35614/ISSN-2341-6408-IK-2020-02-RL.

How to cite: Votsis, A., Basart, S., Barnaba, F., Di Tomaso, E., Lindfors, A., Mona, L., Mytilinaios, M., Formenti, P., Rautio, T., Wang, Y., Werner, E., and Pérez García-Pando, C.: Addressing the impacts of sand and dust storms in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe for air quality, aviation and solar energy: the DustClim approach to climate services, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12819,, 2021.


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