Effects of Multi-Decadal Variation of SST and Dust Radiative Forcing on Rainfall and Dust Transport over West Africa and Northern Atlantic Ocean

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Kyu-Myong Kim1, William K-M Lau2 and Peter Richard Colarco2, (1)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (2)NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD, United States
The effects of multi-decadal variations of sea surface temperature (SST) and dust radiative forcing on the West African monsoon rainfall and circulation, and consequent change in dust emission and transport are examined based on model experiments with the NASA GEOS-5 GCM with prescribed SST. SST patterns representing the 1950s and 1980s are obtained based on Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) between Sahel rainfall and global SST distribution, and prescribed for 7-year simulations for each period. Results show that the subtropical high is strengthened and expanded southwestward associated with colder northern Atlantic Ocean SST in 1980s. As a result, the rain band in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Sahel moves southward and rainfall is reduced over the Sahel. Stronger surface winds associated with strong surface temperature gradients increase dust emission in the southern Saharan desert and northern Sahel. Combined with circulation changes induced by strengthening the subtropical high and reduced wet deposition, dust transport is increased in the deep tropics (10-20N), but reduced in the northern path (20-30N)

To examine the effect of aerosol radiative forcing, additional experiments are conducted after dust radiative feedback is turned off. Without aerosol radiative feedback, model still simulate aforementioned contrast between 1980s and 1950s, but the anomalies of Sahel drought and dust transports are a lot weaker. Preliminary results indicate that atmospheric heating due to shortwave absorption by dust provides additional buoyance and lifts dust particles to higher altitudes. Dust radiative forcing also increases meridional temperature gradients and strengthens the African Easterly Jet, resulting in an increased residence time of dust and farther westward transport.