Meteosat-11 captures plume of Saharan dust
5 February 2021 09:00 UTC-7 February 11:00 UTC
On 5-6 February 2021, a massive amount of Saharan dust was advected across the Mediterranean Sea into central Europe, thanks to the favorable synoptic situation with a Low over Spain and a southerly jet stream over Morocco and the Mediterranean.
10 June 2022
08 February 2021
The dust plume can be clearly seen on the Terra MODIS True Colour RGB image from the morning of 6 February (Figure 1).
High dust concentrations turned skies and snow to orange across southern and central parts of Europe (Spain, Andorra, France, Switzerland, Germany), creating dramatic scenery. The dust plume left deposits along the east coast of Spain, in particular Valencia, and orange snow on the Pyrenees and western Alps. While acknowledging this happens a few times a year (see the well documented case Extensive DIBS in the Deformation Zone from April 2020), meteorologists also noted this event was particularly intense.
Figure 2 shows the animation of the Dust RGB from the beginning of the dust outbreak in the border area between Morocco and Algeria, to its arrival over Switzerland and southern Germany. The animation is centred on the dust plume, i.e. it follows the mid-to-high level flow. This allows monitoring of the development of the dust plume from the first signs to its ingestion in the baroclinic cloud (cirrus) over central Europe.
Figure 3 shows both, the dust plume over France, Italy and Switzerland at 12:00 UTC on 6 February (see Dust RGB, bright red colour, i.e. high level dust) and the DIBS (Dust‐Infused Baroclinic cyclone Storm clouds, also called 'dusty cirrus') cloud over France and southern Germany (see Convection RGB, strong yellow colour). The yellow colour indicates small ice particles, very characteristic for DIBS clouds. Another characteristic of DIBS clouds is their granular (pockmarked) structure, which is best seen in early morning HRV images.
Extensive DIBS in the Deformation Zone
In April 2020, pockmarked DIBS cloud, produced by a cyclone over the Mediterranean Sea, entered an elongated deformation zone.
Cellular convection in cirrus clouds
Cellular convection in cirrus clouds as a possible effect of dust aerosols.
Saharan dust causes temperature drop
Some areas of Europe saw a significant drop in temperatures on 1 April 2016 due to a large cloud of Saharan dust.