The spatial distribution of mineral dust and its shortwave radiative forcing over North Africa: modeling sensitivities to dust emissions and aerosol size treatments
- 1Atmospheric Science and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
- 2Met Office, Exeter, UK
Abstract. A fully coupled meteorology-chemistry-aerosol model (WRF-Chem) is applied to simulate mineral dust and its shortwave (SW) radiative forcing over North Africa. Two dust emission schemes (GOCART and DUSTRAN) and two aerosol models (MADE/SORGAM and MOSAIC) are adopted in simulations to investigate the modeling sensitivities to dust emissions and aerosol size treatments. The modeled size distribution and spatial variability of mineral dust and its radiative properties are evaluated using measurements (ground-based, aircraft, and satellites) during the AMMA SOP0 campaign from 6 January to 3 February of 2006 (the SOP0 period) over North Africa. Two dust emission schemes generally simulate similar spatial distributions and temporal evolutions of dust emissions. Simulations using the GOCART scheme with different initial (emitted) dust size distributions require ~40% difference in total emitted dust mass to produce similar SW radiative forcing of dust over the Sahel region. The modal approach of MADE/SORGAM retains 25% more fine dust particles (radius<1.25 μm) but 8% less coarse dust particles (radius>1.25 μm) than the sectional approach of MOSAIC in simulations using the same size-resolved dust emissions. Consequently, MADE/SORGAM simulates 11% higher AOD, up to 13% lower SW dust heating rate, and 15% larger (more negative) SW dust radiative forcing at the surface than MOSAIC over the Sahel region. In the daytime of the SOP0 period, the model simulations show that the mineral dust heats the lower atmosphere with an average rate of 0.8 ± 0.5 K day−1 over the Niamey vicinity and 0.5 ± 0.2 K day−1 over North Africa and reduces the downwelling SW radiation at the surface by up to 58 W m−2 with an average of 22 W m−2 over North Africa. This highlights the importance of including dust radiative impact in understanding the regional climate of North Africa. When compared to the available measurements, the WRF-Chem simulations can generally capture the measured features of mineral dust and its radiative properties over North Africa, suggesting that the model is suitable for more extensive simulations of dust impact on regional climate over North Africa.