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This proposal is the result of discussions among several German aerosol scientists during and after the participation in the international „Workshop on Mineral Dust“, held in Boulder, June 9-11, 1999, organized by the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department, University of Colorado. A summary of contributions of the workshop has been published in a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research 106, D16, (2001). The suggested topics of SAMUM are in accord with the major outlines of “recommended urgent needs for future work” to quantify better the processes governing the radiative interaction with dust particles over deserts and areas affected by strong advection of desert dusts and the impact on climate (summarized by Sokolik et al., 2001).
Based on the workshop recommendations and on the syntheses of IPCC and dust related reviews (e.g., Prospero et al., 2002) several large dust related experiments have been initiated over the past few years. The Saharan Dust Experiment (SHADE) took place in the Cape Verde area for ten days in September 2000. It was designed to determine better the parameters that are relevant for computing the direct radiative effect of dust (Tanré et al., 2003). Whereas the experiment was concluded successfully as a whole the need for characterizing dust properties for specific conditions was expressed, in particular concerning the anthropogenic fraction.
The Puerto Rico Dust Experiment (PRIDE) in June/July 2001 was realized with a combination of small aircraft, remote sensing and ground-based assets to study African dust that was transported into the Caribbean region (Reid and Maring, 2003). No closure along the lines of previous closure experiments (e.g., Quinn et al., 1996; Russell and Heintzenberg, 2000) was sought between in situ and remote sensing systems. Instead, general scale and error analysis was conducted.
As a long-term effort directed at a better understanding of the West African Monsoon the international project AMMA recently has been initiated (http://medias.obs-mip.fr/amma/index.en.html). To date AMMA includes a relatively small aerosol component within West Africa because the main thrust is in atmospheric dynamics.
With these recent and ongoing dust related efforts: Why should one initiate yet another dust research program? This however is readily answered by the importance of desert dust within the earth atmosphere system and our current lack of understanding. The following sections will elaborate in which way scope, methodology, and the goals of the present proposal reach substantially beyond previous and ongoing studies of radiative effects of Saharan dust.