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AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 31, 2008
Date:1/2/2009

"http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008JD010077">http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008JD010077


10. Dust plays conflicting roles in West African rainfall

Recent studies over West Africa suggest that dust affects weather patterns, although no clear consensus exists on whether atmospheric feedbacks associated with dust are more likely to increase or decrease precipitation. To help answer this question, Solmon et al. study the influence of Saharan dust on the West African monsoon using a regional climate model interactively coupled with a dust model. They find that for the decade between 1996 and 2006, two competing dust effects were expressed. First, a reduction of monsoon intensity in the lower troposphere induced by the dust surface cooling can cause a reduction of precipitation. Second, an "elevated heat pump" effect in the higher troposphere induced by warming dust caused an increase of precipitation. In standard models, the net impact of these effects is a reduction of precipitation over most of the Sahel except over the border between the northern Sahel and southern Sahara. The authors expect that including dust in regional climate models will help models better match observations.

Title: Dust aerosol impact on regional precipitation over western Africa, mechanisms and sensitivity to absorption properties

Authors: Fabien Solmon, Marc Mallet, and Nellie Elguindi: Laboratoire d'Arologie, Universit de Toulouse, Toulouse, France;

Filippo Giorgi and Ashraf Zakey: Earth System Physics, Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy;

Abdourahamane Konar: Laboratoire de Physique de l'Atmosphre, Universit de Cocody, Abidjan, Cte d'Ivoire

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2008GL035900, 2008; http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008GL035900


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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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