Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Chidong Zhang

Second Committee Member

Bruce Albrecht

Third Committee Member

Joseph Prospero

Fourth Committee Member

Paquita Zuidema


Using Vertical Feature Mask (VFM) data from Cloud - Aerosol Lidar Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO), I have documented 3-dimensional (3D) structures in occurrence probabilities of aerosol over a broad region of Africa, the Atlantic, Europe, and Americas. The 3D structures illustrate the seasonal means and seasonal cycle in the zonal and meridional variability of the vertical profiles of mineral dust, biomass burning smoke, and polluted dust (external mixture of dust and smoke), and their emissions sources and transport pathways. Emission sources vary by geographical location. The persistent Saharan dust source is evident throughout the year and observed and recorded by CALIPSO 70-80% of the time over Africa. Horizontal and vertical occurrence of dust is variable in time with maximum heights and westward transport occurring in boreal summer and minimum heights and transport occurring in boreal winter. The southern African biomass burning source is also evident throughout the year, through westward transport over the Atlantic is only evident in boreal summer and fall; mixing with dust over the continent limits westward transport of pure smoke to the continent in winter and spring. Other smaller smoke and dust sources are discussed. The role of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in limiting the southward transport of dust and northward transport of smoke over Africa is demonstrated. Surprisingly, the highest probability of polluted dust is found in the ITCZ, even though the probabilities of dust and smoke are low. Wind trajectories reveal smoke of southern African origin is transported northward at the lower levels, but rarely penetrating through ITCZ rainband while Saharan dust is transported southward at higher levels, crossing the ITCZ frequently. This quasi-circulation of aerosol is shown to be the mixing mechanism of dust and smoke into polluted dust in the area of the ITCZ.


CALIPSO; Aerosol; Climatology; Africa; Dust; Polluted Dust; Smoke