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date: 26 June 2022

Saharan Dust Records and Its Impact in the European Alpslocked

Saharan Dust Records and Its Impact in the European Alpslocked

  • Marion GreilingerMarion GreilingerZentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik
  •  and Anne Kasper-GieblAnne Kasper-GieblVienna University of Technology

Summary

Mineral dust is one of the main natural sources of atmospheric particulate matter, with the Sahara being one of the most important source regions for the occurrence and deposition of mineral dust in Europe. The occurrence of dust events in the European Alps is documented via measurements of airborne dust and its deposits onto the glaciers. Dust events occur mainly in spring, summer, and early autumn.

Dust layers are investigated in ice cores spanning the last millennium as well as in annual snow packs. They strongly affect the overall flux of dust-related compounds (e.g., calcium and magnesium), provide an alkaline input to wet deposition chemistry, and change the microbial abundance and diversity of the snow pack. Still airborne mineral dust particles can act as ice nuclei and cloud condensation nuclei, influencing the formation of cloud droplets and hence cloud formation and precipitation. Dust deposits on the snow lead to a darkening of the surface, referred to as “surface albedo reduction,” which influences the timing of the snowmelt and reduces the annual mass balance of glaciers, showing a direct link to glacier retreat as observed presently in a warming climate.

Subjects

  • Climate Impact: Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Climate of the European Alps

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