Modeling a typical winter-time dust event over the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea
- 1Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
- 2Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
Abstract. We used WRF-Chem, a regional meteorological model coupled with an aerosol-chemistry component, to simulate various aspects of the dust phenomena over the Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea during a typical winter-time dust event that occurred in January 2009. The model predicted that the total amount of emitted dust was 18.3 Tg for the entire dust outburst period and that the two maximum daily rates were ~2.4 Tg day−1 and ~1.5 Tg day−1, corresponding to two periods with the highest aerosol optical depth that were well captured by ground- and satellite-based observations. The model predicted that the dust plume was thick, extensive, and mixed in a deep boundary layer at an altitude of 3–4 km. Its spatial distribution was modeled to be consistent with typical spatial patterns of dust emissions. We utilized MODIS-Aqua and Solar Village AERONET measurements of the aerosol optical depth (AOD) to evaluate the radiative impact of aerosols. Our results clearly indicated that the presence of dust particles in the atmosphere caused a significant reduction in the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface during the dust event. We also found that dust aerosols have significant impact on the energy and nutrient balances of the Red Sea. Our results showed that the simulated cooling under the dust plume reached 100 W m−2, which could have profound effects on both the sea surface temperature and circulation. Further analysis of dust generation and its spatial and temporal variability is extremely important for future projections and for better understanding of the climate and ecological history of the Red Sea.