Severe atmospheric pollution in the Middle East is attributable to anthropogenic sources

Sergey Osipov, Sourangsu Chowdhury, John N. Crowley, Ivan Tadic, Frank Drewnick, Stephan Borrmann, Philipp Eger, Friederike Fachinger, Horst Fischer, Evgeniya Predybaylo, Mohammed Fnais, Hartwig Harder, Michael Pikridas, Panos Vouterakos, Andrea Pozzer, Jean Sciare, Alexander Ukhov, Georgiy L. Stenchikov, Jonathan Williams, Jos Lelieveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In the Middle East, desert dust is assumed to dominate air pollution, being in permanent violation of public health guidelines. Here we present ship-borne measurements from around the Arabian Peninsula and modeling results to show that hazardous fine particulate matter is to a large extent of anthropogenic origin (>90%), and distinct from the less harmful, coarse desert dust particles. Conventionally, it was understood that desert dust dominates both the fine and coarse aerosol size fractions, which obscures the anthropogenic signal. We find that the annual excess mortality from the exposure to air pollution is 745 (514-1097) per 100,000 per year, similar to that of other leading health risk factors, like high cholesterol and tobacco smoking. Furthermore, anthropogenic pollution particles account for a major part (~53%) of the visible aerosol optical depth. Therefore, in the Middle East anthropogenic air pollution is a leading health risk and an important climatic factor.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 22 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-09-26
Acknowledgements: We thank James Brooks and Eoghan Darbyshire of the University of Manchester, UK, for their help with the aerosol mass spectrometry measurements. We thank Ravan Ahmadov and Jordan Schnell of the University of Colorado, USA, for sharing and coupling the new TUV scheme with the MADE_VBS in WRF-Chem. We acknowledge the Max Planck Society for funding the AQABA campaign. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.


Dive into the research topics of 'Severe atmospheric pollution in the Middle East is attributable to anthropogenic sources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this