African dust transport and deposition modelling verified through a citizen science campaign in Finland: Scientific Reports

O. Meinander, R. Kouznetsov, A. Uppstu, M. Sofiev, A. Kaakinen, J. Salminen, L. Rontu, A. Welti, D. Francis, A.A. Piedehierro, P. Heikkilä, E. Heikkinen, A. Laaksonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


African desert dust is emitted and long-range transported with multiple effects on climate, air quality, cryosphere, and ecosystems. On 21–23 February 2021, dust from a sand and dust storm in northern Africa was transported to Finland, north of 60°N. The episode was predicted 5 days in advance by the global operational SILAM forecast, and its key features were confirmed and detailed by a retrospective analysis. The scavenging of dust by snowfall and freezing rain in Finland resulted in a rare case of substantial mineral dust contamination of snow surfaces over a large area in the southern part of the country. A citizen science campaign was set up to collect contaminated snow samples prepared according to the scientists’ instructions. The campaign gained wide national interest in television, radio, newspapers and social media, and dust samples were received from 525 locations in Finland, up to 64.3°N. The samples were utilised in investigating the ability of an atmospheric dispersion model to simulate the dust episode. The analysis confirmed that dust came from a wide Sahara and Sahel area from 5000 km away. Our results reveal the features of this rare event and demonstrate how deposition samples can be used to evaluate the skills and limitations of current atmospheric models in simulating transport of African dust towards northern Europe. © 2023, The Author(s).
Original languageBritish English
JournalSci. Rep.
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • rain
  • snow
  • Africa
  • African
  • air quality
  • article
  • atmospheric dispersion
  • citizen science
  • controlled study
  • cryosphere
  • desert
  • dust
  • dust storm
  • Europe
  • Finland
  • freezing
  • mineral dust
  • retrospective study
  • Sahel
  • sand
  • simulation
  • social media
  • television


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