Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Michelle van der Does

Guest researcher
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 396
Ocean Systems (OCS)
Guest researcher
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Geert-Jan Brummer
Current project: Trans-Atlantic fluxes of Saharan dust (TRAFFIC - NWO).
About 200 million tons of Saharan dust are transported over the Atlantic Ocean every year, and most of this dust is deposited into the ocean. This dust can have an big influence on climate, in both direct and indirect ways, and can have both a cooling and warming effect. For example, the dust can alter the radiation budget, by scattering incoming solar radiation (cooling), and absorbing reflected radiation from the Earth's surface (warming). The dust also carries nutrients, which enhance algal growth in the ocean's surface, which take up CO2 and thus impact global carbon budgets, but it also carries viable spores, pathogens and microbes, affecting ecosystems around the globe and posing a threat to human health.
Saharan dust has been studied along the west African coast close to the source, and across the Atlantic where it is deposited in the Caribbean and around the Americas, but due to the vastness and inaccessibility of the oceans the majority of the dust that is deposited is rarely studied. This project enables the study of Saharan dust deposition along a transect in the Atlantic Ocean, at 12˚N. This transect lies directly underneath the largest dust plume originating from the African continent. This allows us to investigate the down-wind trends in dust deposition fluxes and dust particle size, not only on a multi-annual scale, but also on a seasonal scale. Our findings reveal significant down-wind fining of dust particle size, altough still "giant" (>75 µm) dust particles are found at distances of more than 4000 km from the west African coast. Current global climate models are unable to simulate the transport of these giant particles, and we are still unsure of the exact mechanisms that allow these particles to be transported all across the ocean. These giant particles can potentially have a large influence on global radiation budgets, and a better understandnig of the mechanisms involved aid the prediction of future impacts of mineral dust on regional and global climate.
Research Cruises
  • RV Meteor Expedition M89 (Oct 2012)
  • RV Pelagia Expedition 64PE378 (Nov-Dec 2013)
  • RV Pelagia Expedition 64PE395 (Jan-Feb 2015)
  • RRS James Cook Expedition JC134 (Mar-Apr 2016)
2011-2013: MSc Earth Sciences, Specialization Applied Environmental Geosciences, at VU University Amsterdam
Master Research Project at NIOZ and VU Amsterdam (2012): "African-Atlantic dust: Analyses of present-day dust deposition off Cape Blanc, Northwest Africa".

Master Thesis at NIOZ and VU (2013): "Trans-Atlantic dust: Temporal and lateral changes in African dust in the Atlantic Ocean".
2008-2011 BSc Earth Sciences, Specializatoin Geology, at Vu Univesity Amsterdam
Bachelor Thesis (2011): "Climate variations in Belgium: A statistical and fluid inclusion analysis of speleothems from Scladina Cave, Belgium".
Honors & Awards
IAS Travel grant for AGU Fall Meeting, San Fransisco, December 2015
EGU Outstanding Student Poster Award, April 2015
IAS Post Graduate Grant, October 2014, which I used to visit the Neptune Isotope Laboratory of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), University of Miami, with Dr. Ali Pourmand.
L.F. Korte, G-J.A. Brummer, M. van der Does, C.V. Guerreiro, R. Hennekam, J.A. van Hateren, D. Jong, C.I. Munday, S. Schouten, and J-B.W. Stuut: Downward particle fluxes of biogenic matter and Saharan dust across the equatorial North Atlantic. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 6023-6040, 2017.
M. van der Does, L.F. Korte, C.I. Munday, G-J.A. Brummer, and J-B.W. Stuut: Particle size traces modern Saharan dust transport and deposition across the equatorial North Atlantic. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13697-13710, 2016.
C.A. Friese, M. van der Does, U. Merkel, M.H. Iversen, G. Fischer, and J-B.W. Stuut: Environmental factors controlling the seasonal variability in particle size distribution of modern Saharan dust deposited off Cape Blanc. Aeolian Research 22, 165-179, 2016.
External websites

Linked blogs

Thursday 01 March 2018
Dust storm on Texel
The extreme weather conditions (prolonged lack of rain and continuous gale-force winds) cause the top soils of pastures to be blown off. Even on Texel we have dust storms!
Friday 20 October 2017
Saharan dust and Amazon freshwaters cause algal blooms
New findings suggest that both Saharan dust and freshwater from the Amazon may have led to algal blooms in the western equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Those are the conclusions of a new paper published by Catarina Guerreiro and colleagues in the…
Tuesday 17 October 2017
Dust (and smoke) is in the air!
Cyclone Ophelia draws Sahara dust and Iberian smoke to northern Europe
Sunday 10 September 2017
New dust paper published by Carmen Friese
The manuscript by Carmen Friese (MARUM) has now been published as "full" paper in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics. The paper is entitled: "Seasonal provenance changes in present-day Saharan dust collected in and off…
Monday 03 July 2017
Dust outbreaks are most often impressive events. One of the most spectacular dust storms is the so-called "haboob". Although initially described in Sudan, Africa, they have also been observed in other dry areas. Last week, a spectacular haboob in…
Thursday 22 June 2017
Australian dust cycle
The Australian dust cycle is a "natural laboratory" for the production of mineral dust. Nowhere else on the planet is the process so clearly visible and chances are that in a few months, huge dust outbreaks will happen again!
Tuesday 13 June 2017
Saharan dust outbreak
A huge dust outbreak occurred off NW Africa, which was registered by our buoys!
Tuesday 30 May 2017
New dust paper published by Laura Korte
Laura Korte published her very first paper in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics

NIOZ publications