Saharan dust fall

For discussion of any observing equipment, from Stevenson Screens and manual instruments to electronic weather stations

Saharan dust fall

Postby John Wilson » 2014 Apr 04, 15:54

Apropos the recent 'Saharan dust' falls, is there any means whereby amateur meteorologists could measure the amount of dust that lands? 'Large splodges on my car' does not sound very scientific. Does anyone do atmospheric dust measurements? If so, how?

Regards to all

John
John Wilson
COL station id44018
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Re: Saharan dust fall

Postby Mike Brown » 2014 Apr 04, 20:58

Completely random thought here. I noticed that after the dust fall the water in the rain gauge was cloudy, presumably with the dust. If this could be filtered out in some way, say through a filter paper, perhaps some way could be found to analyse that. perhaps through weight. WE do at least know that the 5" gauge is standard. It might be too big an assumption to believe it is standard for dust, but as I suggested, it might be a start. We used to use a similar arrangement when I worked for the Met Office whereby air was ulled in through the filter paper by a pump. The paper was then sent away for analysis, looking not necessarily for dust but other particulates.

Best wishes

Mike
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Re: Saharan dust fall

Postby Stephen Burt » 2014 Apr 04, 21:46

A raingauge funnel isn't the best way of ensuring a clean surface, for reasons that will be fairly clear to any observer!

I have a simple prototype device under test at present which may provide a means to gain some quantitative estimates of dustfall, but as it's only had two 'positives' in the four months I've been using it (both in the last fortnight) it's a little too early to say for sure whether the idea has merit. Once further deposits have been sampled, then I'll publish details, at which point if it works as I hope it will then it would be worth seeking volunteers for a wider trial from amongst the COL membership.

In the meantime, a clean car - at the very least a clean windscreen - is probably the easiest method of spotting a dustfall, at least for light precipitation events.

Stephen
-----
Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire - central southern England
51.4°N, 1.0°W, 60 m AMSL, station grade A - AAAA47R
Records commenced here 1987 - local records available back to 1862
The Weather Observer's Handbook: www.measuringtheweather.com
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