An Energetic Perspective on Aerosol Radiative Forcing and Interactions with Atmospheric Wave Activity
Friday, 19 December 2014
Aerosols have the capability to alter regional-scale atmospheric circulations. A better understanding of the contribution of aerosols to multi-scale atmospheric phenomena and their transient changes is crucial for efforts to evaluate climate predictions using next generation climate models. In this study we address the following questions: (1) Is there a mechanistic relationship between variability of oceanic dust aerosol forcing and transient changes in the African easterly jet- African easterly wave (AEJ-AEW) system? (2) What are the long-term impacts of possible aerosol-wave interactions on climate dynamics of eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean and western African monsoon (WAM) region during boreal summer seasons? Our hypothesis is that aerosol radiative forcing may act as additional energy source to fuel the development of African easterly waves on the northern and southern sides of the AEJ. Evidence in support of this hypothesis is presented based on analysis of an ensemble of NASA satellite data sets, including aerosol optical thickness (AOT) observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) and the Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), as well as an atmospheric reanalysis from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and a simulation of global aerosol distributions made with the Goddard Earth Observing System Model version 5 (GEOS-5) Earth system model with meteorology constrained by MERRA and an assimilation of MODIS AOT (MERRAero). We propose that the impacts of Saharan aerosols on the regional climate dynamics occur through contributions to the eddy energy of waves with 2—7-day and 7—11-day variability.