Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2023-481
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2023-481
01 Feb 2024
 | 01 Feb 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Large synthesis of in situ field measurements of the size distribution of mineral dust aerosols across their lifecycle

Paola Formenti and Claudia Di Biagio

Abstract. Mineral dust aerosol is an important contributor to the Earth climate system and the correct representation of its size distribution is fundamental for shaping the current state and the evolution of climate. Despite many observational dust size data are available in the literature, using this body of information to proper guide the development and validation of climate models and remote sensing retrievals remains challenging. This is due to the diverse nature of different data, both in terms of measurement methods, diameter definitions, sampled concentrations and data treatments, leading to inherent heterogeneities. In this study we collect, evaluate, harmonize, and synthetize 58 size distribution data from the past 50 years of in situ field observations with the aim of providing a consistent dataset to the community to use for constraining the representation of dust size across its lifecycle. Four levels (LEV) of data treatment are defined, going from original data (LEV0), data interpolated and normalized on a standardized diameter path (LEV1), and data in which original particle diameters are converted into a common geometrical definition under both spherical (LEV2a) and aspherical (LEV2b) assumptions. Size distributions are classified to be representative of emission/source (SOURCE, <1 day from emission; number of datasets in this category, N=12), mid−range transport (MRT, 1−4 days of transport; N=36) and long−range transport (LRT, >4 days of transport; N=10). The harmonized dataset shows consistent features in the shape of the dust size distribution suggesting the conservation of airborne particles with time: a main mode located at ~10 µm (in volume) is observed for SOURCE dust, decreasing to ~5 µm and ~2 µm for MRT and LRT conditions, respectively, for which an additional mode becomes evident below 0.4 µm. Data for the three levels (LEV1, LEV2a, LEV2b) and the three categories (SOURCE, MRT, LRT), together with statistical metrics (mean, median, 25 % and 75 % percentiles, and standard deviation) are made available as: SOURCE (https://doi.org/10.57932/58dbe908-9394-4504-9099-74a3e77140e9; Formenti and Di Biagio, 2023a); MRT (https://doi.org/10.57932/31f2adf7-74fb-48e8-a3ef-059f663c47f1; Formenti and Di Biagio, 2023b); LRT (https://doi.org/10.57932/17dc781c-3e9d-4908-85b5-5c99e68e8f79; Formenti and Di Biagio, 2023c).

Paola Formenti and Claudia Di Biagio

Status: open (until 04 Apr 2024)

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Paola Formenti and Claudia Di Biagio

Data sets

Large synthesis of in situ field measurements of the size distribution of mineral dust aerosols across their lifecycle-SOURCE P. Formenti and C. Di Biagio https://doi.org/10.57932/58dbe908-9394-4504-9099-74a3e77140e9

Large synthesis of in situ field measurements of the size distribution of mineral dust aerosols across their lifecycle-MRT P. Formenti and C. Di Biagio https://doi.org/10.57932/31f2adf7-74fb-48e8-a3ef-059f663c47f1

Large synthesis of in situ field measurements of the size distribution of mineral dust aerosols across their lifecycle-LRT P. Formenti and C. Di Biagio https://doi.org/10.57932/17dc781c-3e9d-4908-85b5-5c99e68e8f79

Paola Formenti and Claudia Di Biagio

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Short summary
Particles from deserts and semi-vegetated areas (mineral dust) are important for the Earth climate, and the human health, notably depending on their size. In this paper we collect and made de synthesis of a body of those observations since 1972 in order to provide researchers modelling the Earth climate as well as researchers developing satellite observations from space a simple way of confronting their results and understanding their validity.
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