The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVI-M-2-2022
25 Jul 2022
 | 25 Jul 2022


A. B. Asare-Ansah, Y. A. Twumasi, Z. H. Ning, P. B. Ansah, D. B. Frimpong, F. Owusu, C. Y. Apraku, M. Anokye, P. M. Loh, R. N. D. Armah, and J. Oppong

Keywords: Godzilla, dust plume, aerosol, air quality, Sentinel-5P, Google Earth Engine, Sahara Desert, Africa

Abstract. As part of Earth’s nutrient cycle, a layer of air travels every summer from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. In June 2020, the thickest and densest dust plume traveled over 5000 miles along with the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) from Africa towards the USA and the Caribbean. Due to its gravity and impact, it was nicknamed “Godzilla”. While the cause of this event remains unclear, the advantage of using remote sensing applications to monitor aerosol concentrations and movement provides future opportunities to leverage machine learning technologies to build predictive models with the goal of early forecasting and public health interventions. The Sentinel-5P satellite instrument measures the air quality, ozone, and Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and can be used for climate monitoring, and forecasting. Available on this platform is the UV Aerosol Index (AI) product, a qualitative index that indicates the presence of elevated layers of aerosols in the atmosphere. In this paper, we used Google Earth Engine to monitor the transatlantic movement of this historic dust plume across the Sahara Desert and estimate the aerosol concentrations throughout June 2020. The flexibility of the platform enabled us to generate time series maps to visualize the movement of the Godzilla dust storm from the Sahara Desert across the ocean. The results obtained are relevant for effective planning and interventions to ameliorate the health threats associated with the movement of the dust plume. The outcome is useful for defining the relationship between aerosol concentrations, human health, and aquatic life.