Snow-darkening versus direct radiative effects of mineral dust aerosol on the Indian summer monsoon onset: role of temperature change over dust sources
Atmospheric absorptive aerosols exert complicated effects on the climate system, two of which are through their direct radiative forcing and snow-darkening forcing. Compared to black carbon, the snow-darkening effect of dust on climate has been scarcely explored till now. When depositing in snow, dust can reduce the albedo of snow by darkening it and increasing the snowmelt. In this study, the snow-darkening effect of dust, as well as the direct radiative effect, on the Indian summer monsoon are evaluated by atmospheric general circulation model experiments. The results show that the snow-darkening and direct radiative forcing of dust both have significant impacts on the onset of the Indian monsoon, but they are distinctly opposite. The snow-darkening effect of dust weakens the Indian monsoon precipitation during May and June, opposite to black carbon. The surface temperature over central Asia and the western Tibetan Plateau becomes warmer due to the dust-induced decrease in snow cover, which leads to a local low-level cyclonic anomaly as well as an anticyclonic anomaly over the Indian subcontinent and Arabian Sea. This circulation pattern allows air currents penetrating into the Indian subcontinent more from central Asia but less from the Indian Ocean. In contrast, the direct radiative forcing of dust warms the low troposphere over the Arabian Peninsula, which intensifies moisture convergence and precipitation over the Indian monsoon region. The upper tropospheric atmospheric circulation over Asia is also sensitive to both effects. Compared to previous studies which emphasized the temperature over the Tibetan Plateau, our results further highlight an important role of surface/low tropospheric temperature changes over dust source areas, which can also significantly modify the response of summer monsoon. Thus, links between the climatic impact of dust and complicated thermal conditions over Asia are of importance and need to be clarified accurately.