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Wong, S, Colarco, PR, Dessler, AE (2006). Principal component analysis of the evolution of the Saharan air layer and dust transport: Comparisons between a model simulation and MODIS and AIRS retrievals. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 111(D20), D20109.

The onset and evolution of Saharan air layer (SAL) episodes during June-September 2002 are diagnosed by applying principal component analysis to the NCEP reanalysis temperature anomalies at 850 hPa, where the largest SAL-induced temperature anomalies are located along the west coast of Africa. The first principal component (PC) represents the onset of SAL episodes, which are associated with large warm anomalies located at the west coast of Africa. The second PC represents two opposite phases of the evolution of the SAL. The positive phase corresponds to the southwestward migration of the warm anomalies into the tropical-subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, and the negative phase corresponds to the northwestward migration into the subtropical to midlatitude North Atlantic Ocean and the southwest Europe. AIRS retrievals of temperatures in September 2002 verify the migration depicted by the second PC. In addition, a dust transport model (CARMA) and the MODIS retrievals of aerosol optical thickness are used to study the associated effects on dust distribution and deposition. The positive (negative) phase of the second PC corresponds to a strengthening (weakening) of the offshore flows in the lower troposphere around 10-20 degrees N, causing more (less) dust being transported toward the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. The 700-hPa anticyclonic circulation associated with the warm anomalies plays a role in connecting the dust with the warm anomalies.



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