The global dust cycle and uncertainty in CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5) models

Wu, Chenglai; Lin, Zhaohui; Liu, Xiaohong

The dust cycle is an important component of the Earth system and has been implemented in climate models and Earth system models (ESMs). An assessment of the dust cycle in these models is vital to address their strengths and weaknesses in simulating dust aerosol and its interactions with the Earth system and enhance the future model developments. This study presents a comprehensive evaluation of the global dust cycle in 15 models participating in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The various models are compared with each other and with an aerosol reanalysis as well as station observations. The results show that the global dust emission in these models varies by a factor of 4–5 for the same size range. The models generally agree with each other and observations in reproducing the “dust belt”, which extends from North Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia to East Asia, although they differ greatly in the spatial extent of this dust belt. The models also differ in other dust source regions such as North America and Australia. We suggest that the coupling of dust emission with dynamic vegetation can enlarge the range of simulated dust emission.

For the removal process, all the models estimate that wet deposition is smaller than dry deposition and wet deposition accounts for 12 %–39 % of total deposition. The models also estimate that most (77 %–91 %) dust particles are deposited onto continents and 9 %–23 % of dust particles are deposited into oceans. Compared to the observations, most models reproduce the dust deposition and dust concentrations within a factor of 10 at most stations, but larger biases by more than a factor of 10 are also noted at specific regions and for certain models. These results highlight the need for further improvements of the dust cycle especially on dust emission in climate models.

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Wu, Chenglai / Lin, Zhaohui / Liu, Xiaohong: The global dust cycle and uncertainty in CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5) models. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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