SALEX project description
The NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division (HRD) recently completed first ever
missions of its Saharan Air Layer Experiment (SALEX) around Tropical Storm
Irene. The goal of these missions was to use GPS dropwindsondes launched from
NOAA's G-IV high altitude jet to sample dry, dusty Saharan air that was
surrounding Irene. Two SALEX missions were conducted on August 7-8 and
because of Irene's remote location in the central Atlantic, Barbados was used
as the base of operations. Scientists aboard the flights sampled areas of
Saharan air around the storm that were 30-50% drier than the typical tropical
atmosphere and also recounted seeing vast amounts of Saharan dust in these
areas. They also noted that these measurements of the Saharan Air Layer were
taken some 2000-3000 miles west of where it originated over the Sahara Desert,
confirming the extreme long lived nature of this phenomenon.
The Saharan Air Layer's dry air, strong winds, and vast amounts of suspended
mineral dust have been shown to inhibit the development of tropical cyclones
in the Atlantic. Scientists plan to conduct more SALEX missions this hurricane
season and again during the 2006 season. The data that is collected will be
used to further our understanding of how the Saharan Air Layer affects tropical
cyclones and will also be fed into forecast models in hopes of improving
More information on the Saharan Air Layer can be found on HRD's
Cyclone FAQ page.
AOML Outreach Coordinator
Crew photo taken in Barbados following the completion of the first-ever G-IV
SALEX mission (August 7, 2005). Crew members from left: Will Odell (LT),
Gordon Kitson, Jeff Hagan (LCDR), Michele Finn (CDR), Dale Carpenter, David
Brogan, Jason Dunion (Chief Scientist), Ray Tong, and Barry Damiano (Flight
Director). Photo taken by Jack Parrish.
Photo from the NOAA G-IV jet (flying at 45,000 ft) showing dusty Saharan air
on the west side of Tropical Storm Irene the afternoon of August 8th.
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