Articles | Volume 17, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 993–1015, 2017
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 993–1015, 2017

Research article 23 Jan 2017

Research article | 23 Jan 2017

Quantifying local-scale dust emission from the Arabian Red Sea coastal plain

Anatolii Anisimov1, Weichun Tao1,a, Georgiy Stenchikov1, Stoitchko Kalenderski1, P. Jish Prakash1, Zong-Liang Yang2, and Mingjie Shi2,b Anatolii Anisimov et al.
  • 1King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Physical Science and Engineering Division (PSE), Thuwal, 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
  • 2The University of Texas at Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences, Department of Geological Sciences, Austin, TX 78712, USA
  • anow at: Policy Research Center of Environment and Economy, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Beijing, 100029, People's Republic of China
  • bnow at: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA

Abstract. Dust plumes emitted from the narrow Arabian Red Sea coastal plain are often observed on satellite images and felt in local population centers. Despite its relatively small area, the coastal plain could be a significant dust source; however, its effect is not well quantified as it is not well approximated in global or even regional models. In addition, because of close proximity to the Red Sea, a significant amount of dust from the coastal areas could be deposited into the Red Sea and serve as a vital component of the nutrient balance of marine ecosystems.

In the current study, we apply the offline Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4) to better quantify dust emission from the coastal plain during the period of 2009–2011. We verify the spatial and temporal variability in model results using independent weather station reports. We also compare the results with the MERRA Aerosol Reanalysis (MERRAero). We show that the best results are obtained with 1 km model spatial resolution and dust source function based on Meteosat Second Generation Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI) measurements. We present the dust emission spatial pattern, as well as estimates of seasonal and diurnal variability in dust event frequency and intensity, and discuss the emission regime in the major dust generation hot spot areas. We demonstrate the contrasting seasonal dust cycles in the northern and southern parts of the coastal plain and discuss the physical mechanisms responsible for dust generation.

This study provides the first estimates of the fine-scale spatial and temporal distribution of dust emissions from the Arabian Red Sea coastal plain constrained by MERRAero and short-term WRF-Chem simulations. The estimate of total dust emission from the coastal plain, tuned to fit emissions in MERRAero, is 7.5 ± 0.5 Mt a−1. Small interannual variability indicates that the study area is a stable dust source. The mineralogical composition analysis shows that the coastal plain generates around 76 ± 5 kt of iron oxides and 6 ± 0.4 kt of phosphorus annually. Over 65 % of dust is emitted from the northern part of the coastal plain.

Short summary
This study is aimed at quantifying the fine-scale structure of dust emission from the western coastal plain of the Arabian Peninsula. Using the high-resolution modeling tools and up-to-date satellite inventories, we simulate and analyze the spatial and temporal variability of dust generation. The estimate of total dust emission from the coastal plain is 7.5 ± 0.5 Mt per year. We show that the study area is a stable dust generation zone and a potential source of mineral nutrients for the Red Sea.
Final-revised paper