Model inter-comparisons of dust emission over the Bodélé Depression

M.C. Todd, D. Bou Karam, C. Cavazos, C. Bouet, B. Heinold, G. Cautenet, P. Tulet, C. Perez, I. Tegen, and R. Washington: “Quantifying uncertainty in estimates of mineral dust flux: an inter-comparison of model performance over the Bodélé Depression, Northern Chad”, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D24107, 2008, doi:10.1029/2008JD010476.


Mineral dust aerosols play an important role in the climate system. Coupled climate aerosol models are an important tool with which to quantify dust fluxes and the associated climate impact.

In recent years, numerous models have been developed but to date there have been few attempts to compare the performance of these models. In this paper a comparison of five regional atmospheric models with dust modules is made, in terms of their simulation of meteorology, dust emission and transport.

The inter-comparison focuses on a 3-day dust event over the Bodélé depression in Northern Chad, the world’s single most important dust source. Simulations are compared to satellite data and in-situ observations from the Bodélé Dust Experiment (BoDEx 2005).

Overall, the models reproduce many of the key features of the meteorology and the large dust plumes that occur over the study domain. However, there is at least an order of magnitude range in model estimates of key quantities including, dust concentration, dust burden, dust flux and AOT.

As such, there remains considerable uncertainty in model estimates of the dust cycle and its interaction with climate. The paper discusses the likely sources of this model uncertainty.

ITD Diurnal Cycle

B. Pospichal, D. Bou Karam , S. Crewell, C. Flamant, A. Hünerbein, O. Bock, F. Saïd (2009): Diurnal cycle of the inter-tropical discontinuity over West Africa analysed by remote sensing and mesoscale modelling, submitted to QJRMS.



The diurnal cycle of the Inter-tropical discontinuity (ITD), i.e. the interface at the ground between the moist monsoon air and the dry Harmattan air, is an important factor in the West African monsoon system. During the whole year of 2006, high resolution ground-based remote-sensing measurements have been performed in the area of Djougou, Benin which made it possible to observe the ITD and the associated sharp gradient of temperature and humidity in detail.


In order to extend the point measurements to a 3D view of the ITD and to enhance the knowledge of the processes around the ITD, the mesoscale atmospheric model MesoNH has been run for a 84-hours period in April 2006. In addition Meteosat infrared observations have been used to determine the ITD position and its movement. From these observations a northward propagation of the moist air front (ITD) of 8-12 m s-1 has been calculated.


The model turned out to match well with the observations: For example, the time of front arrival in Djougou is simulated with a maximum error of about 1 hour and the speed of the ITD is consistent with Meteosat images. This agreement suggests the use of the model to further describe processes in the lower atmosphere.


Keywords: AMMA, West African Monsoon, Low level jet, MesoNH