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Natural and anthropogenic aerosols over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) play a major role in affecting the regional radiation budget. The long-term variability of these aerosols’ physical and optical parameters, including aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Ångström exponent (α), were measured at a location near central KSA using the Solar Village (SV) AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network) station during the period December 1999–January 2013. The AERONET measurements show an overall increase in AOD on an annual basis. This upward trend is mainly attributed to a prolonged increase in the monthly/seasonal mean AOD during March–June and during August– September. In contrast, lower AOD values were observed during November–December. This can be attributed to a low frequency of dust outbreaks and higher precipitation rates. An overall, weak declining trend in α was observed, except during the summer. The spring and summer seasons experienced a pronounced increase in the number of coarse particles (~2 µm) during April 2006– January 2013 as compared to December 1999–March 2006, suggesting an increase in natural aerosol loadings. Using the HYSPLIT model, it was found that the March 2009 dust storm contributed to the mixing of long-transported dust with anthropogenic local emissions near the SV. The results suggest that extensive industrial activity contributed to the increase of anthropogenic emissions over KSA during the period April 2006–January 2013.


This article was originally published in Atmosphere, volume 10, in 2019.

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