Monitoring atmospheric composition & climate
Dust storm affects Middle-East

macc_dust_plume_20150210_018_small.pngA massive desert dust storm swept through the Middle-East earlier this week affecting air quality, visibility and air traffic. The MACC-III forecasts were very successful in capturing this event forecasting high concentrations of desert dust 4 days in advance.

The event was noticed in many on-line news sites, such as Reuters, the Jerusalem Post, the Guardian, and ABCnews. While it is not unusual to see desert dust from northern Africa being transported towards the Middle-East, this particular event was very intense and also much earlier in the year than in other years. The massive amount of small dust particles severely affected visibility in several countries, for instance interupting air traffic at major airports in Egypt. Also, the Israel Environmental Protection Ministry reported the highest levels of particulate matter (PM10) in the last five years.

The MACC-III global forecasting system accurately predicted the event already four days in advance, as shown in the figure below. Shown is the 4 day forecast for 10 February 2015 of desert dust (Aerosol Optical Depth in orange colours) and surface winds at 10 meter altitude illustrating the pattern of strong winds over the eastern Mediterranean. This demonstrates that MACC-III forecasts have the potential to support timely decision-making for mitigation measures.