Modeling dust sources, transport, and radiative effects at different altitudes over the Tibetan Plateau

Hu, Zhiyuan; Huang, Jianping; Zhao, Chun; Jin, Qinjian; Ma, Yuanyuan; Yang, Ben

Mineral dust plays an important role in the climate of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) by modifying the radiation budget, cloud macro- and microphysics, precipitation, and snow albedo. Meanwhile, the TP, with the highest topography in the world, can affect intercontinental transport of dust plumes and induce typical distribution characteristics of dust at different altitudes. In this study, we conduct a quasi-global simulation to investigate the characteristics of dust source contribution and transport over the TP at different altitudes by using a fully coupled meteorology–chemistry model, the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry (WRF-Chem), with a tracer-tagging technique. Generally, the simulation reasonably captures the spatial distribution of satellite-retrieved dust aerosol optical depth (AOD) at different altitudes. Model results show that dust particles are emitted into atmosphere through updrafts over major desert regions and then transported to the TP. The East Asian dust (mainly from the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts) is transported southward and is lifted up to the TP, contributing a mass loading of 50 mg minline-formula−2 at a height of 3 km and 5 mg minline-formula−2 at a height of 12 km over the northern slope of the TP. Dust from North Africa and the Middle East are concentrated over both of the northern and southern slopes below 6 km, where mass loadings range from 10 to 100 and 1 to 10 mg minline-formula−2 below 3 km and above 9 km, respectively. As the dust is transported to the north and over the TP, mass loadings are 5–10 mg minline-formula−2 above a height of 6 km.

The dust mass flux carried from East Asia to the TP is 7.9 Tg yrinline-formula−1, mostly occurring at heights of 3–6 km. The dust particles from North Africa and the Middle East are transported eastward following the westerly jet and then are carried into the TP at the west side with dust mass fluxes of 7.8 and 26.6 Tg yrinline-formula−1, respectively. The maximum mass flux of the North African dust mainly occurs at 0–3 km (3.9 Tg yrinline-formula−1), while the Middle Eastern dust occurs at 6–9 km (12.3 Tg yrinline-formula−1). The dust outflow occurs on the east side (inline-formula−17.89 Tg yrinline-formula−1) and south side (inline-formula−11.22 Tg yrinline-formula−1) of the TP, with a peak value (8.7 Tg yrinline-formula−1) at 6–9 km. Moreover, the dust (by mass) is concentrated within the size range of 1.25–5.0 inline-formulaµm and the dust (by particle number) is concentrated in the size range of 0.156–1.25 inline-formulaµm. Compared with other aerosols, the dust contributes to more than 50 % of the total AOD over the TP. The direct radiative forcing induced by the dust is inline-formula−1.28 W minline-formula−2 at the top of the atmosphere (cooling), 0.41 W minline-formula−2 in the atmosphere (warming), and inline-formula−1.68 W minline-formula−2 at the surface (cooling). Our quantitative analyses of the dust contributions from different source regions and the associated radiative forcing can help us to better understand the role of dust on the climate over the TP and surrounding regions.



Hu, Zhiyuan / Huang, Jianping / Zhao, Chun / et al: Modeling dust sources, transport, and radiative effects at different altitudes over the Tibetan Plateau. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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