Dust Radiation, Electrification and Alignment in the Middle East (DREAME)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology

Abstract

Mineral dusts in the atmosphere, originating primarily from dry regions like the Sahara desert, have significant influence on climate. Because of this they need to be accurately represented in climate and weather prediction models. Recent observations of atmospheric Saharan dust by UK scientists provide strong evidence for the existence in mineral dust layers of particles that are predominantly vertically aligned. This alignment is thought to be due to atmospheric electricity associated with the dust layers. Computer modelling indicates that the alignment can significantly change the properties of the dust layers, including the amount of light they transmit, absorb and reflect. This has been termed a 'Venetian blind effect' from the way the tilted particles influence the amount of transmitted light and heat. Change in this and other properties can have significant impact on measurements of dust clouds from satellites, and possibly also on dust movement through the atmosphere. The proposed project will answer urgent questions concerning the precise origin, magnitude, extent and impact of this phenomenon by the use of a variety of measurements from the ground, balloons and aircraft, carried out in the Middle East. The project will result in improved understanding of dust and has the potential to solve a long-standing enigma concerning the movement of dust clouds on the continental scale. The proposal takes advantage of a major opportunity offered by the UK Met Office MEVEX flight campaign, to carry out this project at little additional cost. Therefore it provides excellent value for money.

Publications

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Nicoll K (2011) Observations of Saharan dust layer electrification in Environmental Research Letters

 
Description Through the use of weather balloons, charging of Saharan dust has been determined and measured.
Exploitation Route These technologies were used, effectively, on behalf of the Government by the Met Office to measure icelandic volcanic ash aloft over the UK
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics

URL http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n2/full/ngeo1082.html#/electric-desert-dust
 
Description Reported to parliamentary SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Committee
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmsctech/uc498-ii/uc49801.htm
 
Description Invitation to an International Space Science Institute workshop on Martian dust devils 
Organisation International Space Science Institute (ISSI)
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Invited lecturer. Lead author on review paper.
Collaborator Contribution Contributing authors
Impact Review paper on martian dust electrification, prior to first observations
Start Year 2015
 
Description Charged dust particles let in the sunshine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Paper highlighted in Institute of Physics Environmental Research web

http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/44773

http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/44773
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Electric desert dust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Nature Geoscience science research highlight http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n2/full/ngeo1082.html#/electric-desert-dust

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n2/full/ngeo1082.html#/electric-desert-dust
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011