High dust concentrations in the Eastern Mediterranean - Middle East (EMME) region have serious effects on air quality, human health and climate. This study used long-term aerosol datasets during the main dusty season (April–July: AMJJ) over the EMME from 2000 to 2020, based on Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)/Terra-C6.1, Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2), and Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Reanalysis (CAMSRA) retrievals and analyzed the spatio-temporal variations and trends of dust, as well as the influencing factors. The dust aerosol optical depth (DAOD) experienced a significant upward trend during 2000–2010, followed by a significant decrease during 2010–2017. After 2017 and till 2020, the DAOD presented rather a stable trend. Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) data in the EMME region display trends compatible to those of both MERRA-2 and CAMSRA DAOD. The DAOD trends were linked to changes in regional meteorological parameters in the EMME. A significant downward trend in AMJJ sea-level pressure (SLP) during the early period (2000−2010) induced hot and dry winds from desert regions towards the EMME, which reduced relative humidity (RH) and raised temperature, thus favored soil drying and dust outbreaks through enhancing evaporation. In contrast, a significant increase in winter SLP during the late period (2010–2017), accompanying an increase in North Atlantic Oscillation index, induced cold, wet winds from northwest regions, which increased RH and lowered temperature, thus reducing dust loading in EMME. Positive anomalies in winter soil moisture persisted in the following AMJJ, and consequently suppressed dust activity. DAOD variability over the dust-prone regions was linked to various meteorological parameters via a multiple linear regression (MLR) model. The results show that climatic variability strongly affects the dust trends and contribute to better understanding of meteorological – dust dynamics in the EMME region.
- Dust trends
- Meteorological factors
- Spring-summer aerosols
- The Eastern Mediterranean – Middle East