Ten years of aeolian dust dynamics in a desert region (Negev desert, Israel): Analysis of airborne dust concentration, dust accumulation and the high-magnitude dust events

Zvi Y. Offer, Dirk Goossens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    At Sede Boqer (northern Negev desert, Israel), aeolian dust dynamics have been measured since 1986. The data are somewhat preliminary for the first 2 years, but from 1988 onward, the data set is nearly complete and contains ample information with respect to northern Negev dust. In this paper, several dynamic aspects of the Negev dust are investigated for the decade 1988-1997. Airborne dust concentration, which was measured by total particulate ultra-high-volume sampling at 1-m height, was of the order of 120 μg m-3 (based on 24-h measuring intervals) as an average, with higher values during the day than at night. Concentration was also higher during spring and autumn compared to summer and winter. In the decade 1988-1997, dust concentration decreased from 1988 to 1992 and increased from 1992 to 1997. Systematic oscillations with a periodicity of 30 months occur in the concentration curves. Dust accumulation, which was measured in marble collectors installed at ground level, was of the order of 10-25 g m-2 month-1, with an average value of 17·1 g m-2 month-1. The accumulation rate was higher during the day hours than during the night. There was a tendency for the accumulation to be highest in February and then gradually decrease until the following January, but considerable scatter occurs in this trend. During 1988-1997, dust accumulation at Sede Boqer sharply decreased in the first 2 years, increased during the next 4 years, and more or less stabilized from 1995 onward. There was no agreement between the temporal evolution of the velocity of accumulation va and the temporal evolutions of dust concentration, dust accumulation or wind speed. Most high-magnitude dust events (defined in this study as events with an average airborne dust concentration ≥400 μg m-3) occurring at Sede Boqer are true dust storms, which occur predominantly during the day hours. During the period 1988-1991, dust storms and dust hazes were equally abundant, but from 1992 onward the high-magnitude dust events were nearly exclusively dust storms. The distribution of dust storms and dust hazes over the year is different: the former are mainly concentrated in the period November-May, whereas the latter occur anywhere in the year. True dust storms are usually associated with local cyclonic activity, but may also be connected to local thunderstorm cells (haboob-type dust storms). At Sede Boqer, there is no correlation in the wet season between rainfall and dust activity. A significant correlation exists between rainfall (in the wet season) and dust activity in the next dry season: wet seasons with low rainfall are followed by dry seasons with high dust activity, and wet seasons with high rainfall are followed by dry seasons with low dust activity. The time lag between rainfall intensity and dust activity is most probably caused by the dust crust on the desert floor, which is much stronger after rain seasons with high precipitation than after rain seasons with low precipitation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-249
    Number of pages39
    JournalJournal of Arid Environments
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001


    • Aeolian dust
    • Airborne dust concentration
    • Dust accumulation
    • Dust hazes
    • Dust storms
    • Dust time-series

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Ecology
    • Earth-Surface Processes


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