Substantial quantities of African dust are expected to be transferred to Greece between Tuesday and Saturday.
According to the Athens National Observatory’s meteo.gr weather service’s forecast model, the prevalence of southerly winds from Tuesday to Saturday will bring African dust clouds to Greece for an unusually extended period of time.
While the phenomenon is not unprecedented for the season, it remains unusual, as dust transfer does not normally last more than two to three days.
The most noteworthy repercussions of the African dust clouds in Greece will be:
- an increase in temperatures in the next few days
- restricted visibility in various places
- muddy rain beginning on Thursday, mostly in western and northern parts of the country
Dust and sand are associated with health problems
The African dust is associated with health problems in the general population in Greece. It has been observed that on days with dust concentrations, hospital admissions increase.
Research conducted by Greek and foreign scientists has identified a whole list of hazardous heavy metals in the African dust. This is alarming to society, as the African dust has been “traveling” to Greece more and more frequently over recent years due to the increased desertification in the Sahara.
According to assessments, the dust and sand that travel from Africa to Greece transport poisonous substances, such as lead, zinc, chromium, vanadium, arsenic and nickel in much higher quantities than previously thought.
Formation of African dust and sand clouds
In order for Saharan dust to impact systems around the globe, it must first become airborne and leave the Sahara Desert.
The Bodélé Depression is one of the most significant sites of Saharan dust and sand cloud formation. The depression is composed of dried lake beds which are now covered by dunes.
Winds moving at speeds between 6 and 16 m/s (13-35 mph) through this region pick up loose sediment and transport the dust away from the Sahara.
Naturally, higher wind speeds, lead to the transport of greater amounts of dust in this region. The highest output of dust from this region occurs from spring through fall.