Project

Windblown Dust

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Hosein Foroutan
added a research item
Mineral dust is among the top contributors to global aerosol loads. Ability of non‐photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) to suppress dust emission has been widely acknowledged but a realistic representation of NPV has not been tested with regional‐to‐global scale models. In this study, we implemented a satellite‐based total vegetation data set, which included NPV, into a regional atmospheric chemistry model and conducted simulations for the year 2016 over the conterminous United States. To test the response of dust simulations to the NPV coverage, we conducted a control simulation incorporating only the photosynthetic vegetation (PV). Simulated dust emissions decrease by 10%–70% over most of the southwestern US from spring to autumn due to NPV. Reductions in dust concentrations are the largest in spring, which attenuate the overpredictions of fine soil concentrations, but accentuate the underpredictions in summer. Overall, the mean errors and correlations of annual simulations are slightly improved with NPV. NPV modulates dust emissions mainly by sheltering the surface and increasing the threshold velocity through drag partitioning. Moreover, we investigated the effect of vegetation height and addressed its uncertainties through a series of sensitivity tests. We observed that a 50% variation in predefined vegetation heights results in small changes in soil concentrations over majority of southwestern US, but causes up to 30% changes at local hotspots. This study highlights the significance of including NPV into the dust model and points out the importance of validation of total vegetation datasets as well as more realistic representation of vegetation heights and seasonality.
Hosein Foroutan
added a research item
A physics-based windblown dust emission parameterization scheme is developed and implemented in the CMAQ modeling system. A distinct feature of the present model includes the incorporation of a newly developed, dynamic relation for the surface roughness length, which is important in correctly predicting both the friction velocity and the roughness correction factor used in the dust emission model. Careful attention is paid in integrating the new dust module within the CMAQ to ensure the required input parameters are correctly configured. The model is evaluated for two test cases including the continental United States and the Northern hemisphere, and is shown to be able to capture the occurrence of the dust outbreak and the level of the soil concentration.
Hosein Foroutan
added 3 research items
A new windblown dust emission treatment was incorporated in the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) modeling system. This new model treatment has been built upon previously developed physics-based parameterization schemes from the literature. A distinct and novel feature of this scheme, however, is the incorporation of a newly developed dynamic relation for the surface roughness length relevant to small-scale dust generation processes. Through this implementation, the effect of non-erodible elements on the local flow acceleration, drag partitioning, and surface coverage protection is modeled in a physically based and consistent manner. Careful attention is paid in integrating the new windblown dust treatment in the CMAQ model to ensure that the required input parameters are correctly configured. To test the performance of the new dust module in CMAQ, the entire year 2011 is simulated for the continental United States, with particular emphasis on the southwestern United States (SWUS) where windblown dust concentrations are relatively large. Overall, the model shows good performance with the daily mean bias of soil concentrations fluctuating in the range of ±1 µgm−3 for the entire year. Springtime soil concentrations are in quite good agreement (normalized mean bias of 8.3%) with observations, while moderate to high underestimation of soil concentration is seen in the summertime. The latter is attributed to the issue of representing the convective dust storms in summertime. Evaluations against observations for seven elevated dust events in the SWUS indicate that the new windblown dust treatment is capable of capturing spatial and temporal characteristics of dust outbreaks.
Convective dust storms have significant impacts on atmospheric conditions and air quality and are a major source of dust uplift in summertime. However, regional-to-global models generally do not accurately simulate these storms, a limitation that can be attributed to (1) using a single mean value for wind speed per grid box, i.e. not accounting for subgrid wind variability, and (2) using convective parametrizations that poorly simulate cold pool outflows. This study aims to improve the simulation of convective dust storms by tackling these two issues. Specifically, we incorporate a probability distribution function for surface wind in each grid box to account for subgrid wind variability due to dry and moist convection. Furthermore, we use lightning assimilation to increase the accuracy of the convective parameterization and simulated cold pool outflows. This updated model framework is used to simulate a massive convective dust storm that hit Phoenix, AZ on 6 July, 2011. The results show that lightning assimilation provides a more realistic simulation of precipitation features, including timing and location, and the resulting cold pool outflows that generated the dust storm. When those results are combined with a dust model that accounts for subgrid wind variability, the prediction of dust uplift and concentrations are considerably improved compared to the default model results. This modeling framework could potentially improve the simulation of convective dust storms in global models, regional climate simulations, and retrospective air quality studies.