Aeolian dust emission, transport and deposition in Western Libya
Of numerous aeolian studies around the world, few have been dedicated to dust trapping in the Saharan regions and none is known in Libya. This research aims to explore the extent of dust activities in the western part of Libya, the main factors that influence dust entrainment and deposition, the likely regional emission sources transporting aerosol to this part of the country and ultimately to establish base line information in space and time based on a study area larger than the size of the UK. Dust trapping was carried out at thirty sites on a monthly basis starting from the beginning June 2000 until the end of May 2001. A physical characterization of 274 aeolian sediments were based on grain size distribution analysis and the mineral composition was based on XRD testing of 24 dust samples taken from extreme locations near the Mediterranean Sea and about 800 km inland. An assessment of dust emissions within the area of study, the vertical deposition rates in relation to The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) data have been investigated. Moreover, an attempt identify potential Saharan dust emission sources that have impacted the study area has also been made utilizing TOMS data. The area of study has been divided into three regions northern, central and southern according to the dominant factors controlling mobilization of dust particles on the bed surface. This study concludes that deposition rates in the northern coastal region are largely dominated by human activities. Rates in the central region were strongly affected by topographic irregularities whereas in the south deposition rates were less affected by topography and anthropogenic activity. However, deposition rates and particle size distributions are strongly controlled by wind regimes and correlate with the average atmospheric temperatures. Local sediments seem to be strongly affected by saltating particles in most of the study area and no evidence of long range aerosol emission from western Libya was found. Nevertheless, fine dust (<10 gm) is wide spread in the local atmosphere, however it is more pronounced during late spring and summer. TOMS data and the prevailing wind directions reveal that the depressions of the Libyan Desert and the Bodele Depression in Chad were the main sources of aerosol transported over the study area during the highest months of emission, transport and deposition, July and April. It is hoped that this baseline information can pave the way for future studies on dust impacts on soil fertility, human health, desertification, climate change and the validation of present day computer models.