Dust-rainfall feedbacks in the West African Sahel

Dust aerosols can suppress rainfall by increasing the number of cloud condensation nuclei in warm clouds and affecting the surface radiation budget and boundary layer instability. The extent to which atmospheric dust may affect precipitation yields and the hydrologic cycle in semiarid regions remains poorly understood. We investigate the relationship between dust aerosols and rainfall in the West African Sahel where the dust-rainfall feedback has been speculated to contribute to sustained droughts. We find that the amount of dust loadings is negatively correlated with rainfall values, suggesting that dust entrained in the atmosphere can significantly inhibit rainfall in this region.

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