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Geochemical behaviour of the Tunisian background aerosols in Sirocco wind circulations

Keywords: aerosols,Sahara,Sirocco,Tunisia,turbulent winds

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This study examines spatial and time evolutions of the principal constituents of the Tunisian background aerosols under Sirocco wind circulations. Aerosols coming from the Sahara Desert were found to be loaded with particulate matter, especially silicon. The aerosols were shown to have varying geochemical behaviour along the ``South-North" displacement of the Saharan plumes, depending on the wind flow characteristics, geomorphologic features and the nature of soils swept by the wind. In the south and the center part of the country, the transfer of aerosol constituents to the soil (by gravity and/or impaction) was probably predominated by localized enrichment phenomena. The latter are reinforced by the effect of turbulent winds over bare soils, wind wakes and probably selective disintegration, especially in the vicinity of the geomorphologic features of central Tunisia. These relatively high features, extending over important distances, appear to be of paramount importance for the phenomena of redistribution of aerosol constituents even during periods without Sirocco wind circulations. In the northern section of the country, aerosol constituent concentrations dropped to almost 50%, in spite of the abundance of localized turbulent winds. This may be explained by the effect of forests and the relatively dense vegetation cover, which clearly reinforces the transfer phenomena to the soil and the attenuate of dust entrainment.


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