Case study of a Chinese dust plume reaching the French Alps
By combining reconstruction of airmass back-trajectories from dust deposition sites in Europe and measurements of the (Nd) isotopic composition of deposited dust particles, potential sources of different Saharan dust events can be identified. The study of “red dust” events collected in France allowed us to identify distinct North African source areas (e.g. Lybia vs. Mauritania). Surprisingly, the airmass trajectory of one dust event (March 6, 1990) was distinct from the others, and revealed a Chinese origin. The Nd isotopic composition of this dust was consistent with the range of isotopic compositions of Chinese loess. Moreover, an atmospheric global model simulation reveals that a dust plume left China before February 25, 1990, flew over North America around the February/March transition and reached the French Alps by March 6, 1990, revealing that intercontinental dust and pollutant transport may occur across the Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic at the Westerlies latitudes.
Authors: Grousset, Francis E., Ginoux, Paul, Bory, Aloys, Biscaye, Pierre E.