Imperial College London

Dr Helen Brindley

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Reader in Earth Observation



+44 (0)20 7594 7673h.brindley




717Huxley BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Banks, JR and Huenerbein, A and Heinold, B and Brindley, HE and Deneke, H and Schepanski, K},
doi = {10.5194/acp-19-6893-2019},
journal = {Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics},
pages = {6893--6911},
title = {The sensitivity of the colour of dust in MSG-SEVIRI Desert Dust infrared composite imagery to surface and atmospheric conditions},
url = {},
volume = {19},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Infrared “Desert Dust” composite imagery taken by the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), onboard the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) series of satellites above the equatorial East Atlantic, has been widely used for more than a decade to identify and track the presence of dust storms from and over the Sahara Desert, the Middle East, and southern Africa. Dust is characterised by distinctive pink colours in the Desert Dust false-colour imagery; however, the precise colour is influenced by numerous environmental properties, such as the surface thermal emissivity and skin temperature, the atmospheric water vapour content, the quantity and height of dust in the atmosphere, and the infrared optical properties of the dust itself. For this paper, simulations of SEVIRI infrared measurements and imagery have been performed using a modelling system, which combines dust concentrations simulated by the aerosol transport model COSMO-MUSCAT (COSMO: COnsortium for Small-scale MOdelling; MUSCAT: MUltiScale Chemistry Aerosol Transport Model) with radiative transfer simulations from the RTTOV (Radiative Transfer for TOVS) model. Investigating the sensitivity of the synthetic infrared imagery to the environmental properties over a 6-month summertime period from 2011 to 2013, it is confirmed that water vapour is a major control on the apparent colour of dust, obscuring its presence when the moisture content is high. Of the three SEVIRI channels used in the imagery (8.7, 10.8, and 12.0 µm), the channel at 10.8 µm has the highest atmospheric transmittance and is therefore the most sensitive to the surface skin temperature. A direct consequence of this sensitivity is that the background desert surface exhibits a strong diurnal cycle in colour, with light blue colours possible during the day and purple hues prevalent at night. In dusty scenes, the clearest pink colours arise from high-altitude dust in dry atmospheres. Elevated dust
AU - Banks,JR
AU - Huenerbein,A
AU - Heinold,B
AU - Brindley,HE
AU - Deneke,H
AU - Schepanski,K
DO - 10.5194/acp-19-6893-2019
EP - 6911
PY - 2019///
SN - 1680-7316
SP - 6893
TI - The sensitivity of the colour of dust in MSG-SEVIRI Desert Dust infrared composite imagery to surface and atmospheric conditions
T2 - Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
UR -
UR -
UR -
VL - 19
ER -