Volume 41, Issue 12 p. 5516-5535
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Winter AOD trend changes over the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region

Abdallah Shaheen

Abdallah Shaheen

Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Renguang Wu

Corresponding Author

Renguang Wu

Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence

Renguang Wu, School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

Email: [email protected]

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Jos Lelieveld

Jos Lelieveld

Department of Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Climate and Atmosphere Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus

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Robabeh Yousefi

Robabeh Yousefi

Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Midyan Aldabash

Midyan Aldabash

Department of Geomatics Engineering, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

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First published: 15 April 2021
Citations: 13

Funding information: Chinese Academy of Sciences; The World Academy of Sciences; National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grant/Award Numbers: 41775080, 41530425, 41721004

Abstract

The present study documents the winter aerosol optical depth (AOD) trends over the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region using MERRA-2 and moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) collection 6.1 data. A significant upward AOD trend was identified during the years 2000–2010, whereas the AOD followed a significant downward trend during the years 2010–2017. Our analysis indicates that aeolian dust is the main contributor to AOD changes. The winter AOD changes are related to meteorological factors over the EMME region. During the early period (2000–2010), a significant decrease in sea level pressure induced dry and hot southeasterly winds blowing from the desert regions in the Middle East toward the EMME, which increased the temperature and reduced the relative humidity, thus enhancing evaporation and promoting soil drying. In contrast, during the late period (2010–2017), a significant increase in sea level pressure, accompanied by an increase in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, induced northwesterly winds from higher latitudes, which decreased the temperature and increased the relative humidity, reducing dust mobilization in the EMME, in particular, in Iraq and Egypt. This shows to what extent AOD trends in the EMME region are controlled by changing meteorological weather conditions.