Radiative Effect of Saharan Mineral Dust on the Nonlinear Dynamics of African Easterly Waves

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Dustin Grogan, Terrence R Nathan and Shuhua Chen, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, United States
The radiative effects of Saharan mineral dust aerosols on the nonlinear dynamics of African easterly waves (AEWs) are examined using the Weather Research and Forecasting Dust (WRFD) model. The WRFD model is governed by the Advanced Research WRF dynamical core, and continuity equations for twelve dust particle sizes that represent the spectrum of mineral dust aerosols observed in the atmosphere. To incorporate dust radiative effects in the model, aerosol optical properties (i.e. optical depth, single scattering albedo, and asymmetric parameters) for all dust sizes are inputted into the shortwave and longwave radiation schemes. By choosing zonal-mean distributions of zonal wind and temperature that are consistent with summer over Northwest Africa, idealized dry simulations explore the nonlinear behavior of AEWs in the presence of dust. The initial zonal-mean dust fields are represented as simple distributions that vary in structure and concentration, which are consistent with observed dust events over Africa. Specific AEW features investigated in the simulations include the evolution of wave energy, Eliassen-Palm fluxes, and spatial structures. Among the questions to be addressed are the following: How does the concentration and spatial distribution of the dust field affect the strength and timing of AEW amplitude saturation? What impact will the dust induced wave fluxes have on the horizontal or vertical shear of the zonal-mean AEJ? Does the interaction between the AEJ, AEW and dust affect the timing and location of the AEW trough, and thus the formation of critical latitudes? Answers to these questions will aid in the understanding and forecasting of AEWs, and their possible subsequent development into tropical storms.