Atmospheric deserts


When hot and dry air from the deserts of North Africa is pushed like a lid over the air near the ground in Europe as an "atmospheric desert," so much heat can accumulate underneath that heat waves occur. Atmospheric deserts have for example been partly responsible for the heat waves that plagued large swaths of Europe in the summer of 2022.


Atmospheric deserts can also either suppress thunderstorms or make them particularly severe.

The research project is investigating how common such atmospheric deserts are over certain areas in Europe, whether they are becoming more frequent, and the details of how they contribute to heat waves and severe thunderstorms.



Dabih Isidori

Air parcels (gray dots) that traveled from North Africa to Europe during the previous 4 days, temperature at 750 hPa (shading), and lightning during the previous hour (yellow plus signs). Courtesy of Dabih Isidori.

Project Leader:
Georg MAYR


Fiona FIX
Isabell STUCKE


Funding Agencies:
Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project P35780

Project Duration:
2022-10 - 2026-09

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