Temporal and spatial variability of Icelandic dust emissions and atmospheric transport

Christine Groot Zwaaftink, Olafur Arnalds, Pavla Dagsson-Waldhauserova, Sabine Eckhardt, Joseph M. Prospero, Andreas Stohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Icelandic dust sources are known to be highly active, yet there exist few model simulations of Icelandic dust that could be used to assess its impacts on the environment. We here present estimates of dust emission and transport in Iceland over 27 years (1990-2016) based on FLEXDUST and FLEXPART simulations and meteorological re-analysis data. Simulations for the year 2012 based on high-resolution operational meteorological analyses are used for model evaluation based on PM2:5 and PM10 observations in Iceland. For stations in Reykjavik, we find that the spring period is well predicted by the model, while dust events in late fall and early winter are overpredicted. Six years of dust concentrations observed at Stórhöfoi (Heimaey) show that the model predicts concentrations of the same order of magnitude as observations and timing of modelled and observed dust peaks agrees well. Average annual dust emission is 4.3-0.8 Tg during the 27 years of simulation. Fifty percent of all dust from Iceland is on average emitted in just 25 days of the year, demonstrating the importance of a few strong events for annual total dust emissions. Annual dust emission as well as transport patterns correlate only weakly to the North Atlantic Oscillation. Deposition amounts in remote regions (Svalbard and Greenland) vary from year to year. Only limited dust amounts reach the upper Greenland Ice Sheet, but considerable dust amounts are deposited on Icelandic glaciers and can impact melt rates there. Approximately 34% of the annual dust emission is deposited in Iceland itself. Most dust (58 %), however, is deposited in the ocean and may strongly influence marine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10865-10878
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. We thank Thorsteinn Johannsson (Environment Agency of Iceland) for providing the PM observations and discussions. We acknowledge funding provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 155294) and travel grants provided by the Nordic Centre of Excellence eSTICC (Nordforsk 57001). OA and PDW were supported by Icelandic Research Fund (Rannis) grant no. 152248-051 and PDW by The Recruitment Fund of the University of Iceland. The station at Stórhöfði was initially established with support from the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration to JMP and later sampling and analysis with support various grants from the US National Science Foundation (AGS-0962256). We thank Frances Beckett and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Rykmengun
  • Svifryk
  • Umhverfisáhrif


Dive into the research topics of 'Temporal and spatial variability of Icelandic dust emissions and atmospheric transport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this