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

Shaheen A., Wu R., Lelieveld J., Yousefi R., Aldabash M.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/joc.7139


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.