Articles | Volume 17, issue 3
Research article
15 Feb 2017
Research article |  | 15 Feb 2017

Emission, transport, and radiative effects of mineral dust from the Taklimakan and Gobi deserts: comparison of measurements and model results

Siyu Chen, Jianping Huang, Litai Kang, Hao Wang, Xiaojun Ma, Yongli He, Tiangang Yuan, Ben Yang, Zhongwei Huang, and Guolong Zhang

Abstract. The Weather Research and Forecasting Model with chemistry (WRF-Chem model) was used to investigate a typical dust storm event that occurred from 18 to 23 March 2010 and swept across almost all of China, Japan, and Korea. The spatial and temporal variations in dust aerosols and the meteorological conditions over East Asia were well reproduced by the WRF-Chem model. The simulation results were used to further investigate the details of processes related to dust emission, long-range transport, and radiative effects of dust aerosols over the Taklimakan Desert (TD) and Gobi Desert (GD). The results indicated that weather conditions, topography, and surface types in dust source regions may influence dust emission, uplift height, and transport at the regional scale. The GD was located in the warm zone in advance of the cold front in this case. Rapidly warming surface temperatures and cold air advection at high levels caused strong instability in the atmosphere, which strengthened the downward momentum transported from the middle and low troposphere and caused strong surface winds. Moreover, the GD is located in a relatively flat, high-altitude region influenced by the confluence of the northern and southern westerly jets. Therefore, the GD dust particles were easily lofted to 4 km and were the primary contributor to the dust concentration over East Asia. In the dust budget analysis, the dust emission flux over the TD was 27.2 ± 4.1 µg m−2 s−1, which was similar to that over the GD (29 ± 3.6 µg m−2 s−1). However, the transport contribution of the TD dust (up to 0.8 ton d−1) to the dust sink was much smaller than that of the GD dust (up to 3.7 ton d−1) because of the complex terrain and the prevailing wind in the TD. Notably, a small amount of the TD dust (PM2.5 dust concentration of approximately 8.7 µg m−3) was lofted to above 5 km and transported over greater distances under the influence of the westerly jets. Moreover, the direct radiative forcing induced by dust was estimated to be −3 and −7 W m−2 at the top of the atmosphere, −8 and −10 W m−2 at the surface, and +5 and +3 W m−2 in the atmosphere over the TD and GD, respectively. This study provides confidence for further understanding the climate effects of the GD dust.

Short summary
Compared with the TD dust, the importance of the GD dust in eastern China, Japan, and Korea is always neglected. We focused primarily on the dynamic and thermodynamics mechanisms of dust emission and transport over TD and GD and further elucidate the influence of TD and GD dust on the entire East Asia based on a case study using WRF-Chem model in the study.
Final-revised paper