Long-term dust climatology in the western United States

Friday, 19 December 2014
Pius Lee1, Daniel Tong1,2, Hang Lei3 and Julian X L Wang1, (1)NOAA College Park, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, MD, United States, (2)George Mason Univeristy, Center for spatial Information Science and Systems, Fairfax, VA, United States, (3)IMSG, Environmental Modeling Center, NCEP, College Park, MD, United States
Dust activity is an important indicator to regional climate change. The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was the largest natural catastrophe in the North America history, caused by extended drought and poor land management. Although the severity and duration of the 1930s drought was exceptional, reconstructed paleo-climatic records show that the central U.S. plains have experienced severe droughts about once or twice a century over the past 400 years. Dust record is hence an integral component of the national climate assessment (NCA). This work presents our recent efforts to develop a climate-quality indicator of local windblown dust storms in the U.S. For the arid and semi-arid regions of the western United States, we have developed a novel approach to identify local windblown dust events through routine ambient aerosol monitoring (Tong et al., 2012). This work uses the dust identification algorithm to develop a dust storm dataset (dust indicator), and rely on satellite dust detection and model dust prediction as independent data sources to test, cross-check and validate the dust indicator. This work will extend our research capabilities to contribute developing new climate indicators that are especially aimed at needs of local environmental managers in the Southwestern communities.