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Journal Article: BibTeX citation key:  Emmel2010
Emmel, C., Knippertz, P. & Schulz, O. (2010) Climatology of convective density currents in the southern foothills of the Atlas Mountains. IN Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 115. D11115.
Added by: Peter Knippertz 2010-08-20 13:10:41    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre 2011-01-17 15:35:23
Categories: Atmospheric processes
Keywords: Aerosol, Atmospheric Boundary Layer, Clouds - Convection, Dynamics, Semi-arid
Creators: Emmel, Knippertz, Schulz
Collection: Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres

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Density currents fed by evaporationally cooled air are an important dust storm–generating feature and can constitute a source of moisture in arid regions. Recently, the existence of such systems has been demonstrated for the area between the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert in southern Morocco on the basis of case studies. Here, a climatological analysis is presented that uses data from the dense climate station network of the IMPETUS project (An Integrated Approach to the Efficient Management of Scarce Water Resources in West Africa) for the 5 year period 2002–2006. Objective criteria mainly based upon abrupt changes in wind and dew point temperature are defined to identify possible density current situations. The preselected events are then subjectively evaluated with the help of satellite imagery and surface observations to exclude causes for air mass changes other than moist convective cold pool formation. On average, 11 ± 4 density currents per year are detected with the main season lasting from April to September. Density currents occur mainly in the afternoon and evening due to the diurnal cycle of moist convection. Mean changes at the leading edge are increases in 2 m dew point temperature and wind speed by 5.4°C and 8.2 m s−1, respectively, and a decrease in 2 m air temperature of 2.3°C. The High Atlas and Jebel Saghro are found to be the most important source regions, while only a few systems originate over the Saharan lowlands. Labilization of the atmosphere due to upper-level troughs over northwest Africa and an enhanced moisture content favor density current formation. In addition, detailed case studies representative of different density current types are presented.
Added by: Fanny Lefebvre    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre