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Modeling haboob dust storms in large-scale weather and climate models

Modeling haboob dust storms in large-scale weather and climate models

Pantillon, F., Knippertz, P., Marsham, J. H., Panitz, H.-J., and Bischoff-Gauss, I.


J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 121, doi:10.1002/2015JD024349

Datum: 2016

Recent field campaigns have shown that haboob dust storms, formed by convective cold pool outflows, contribute a significant fraction of dust uplift over the Sahara and Sahel in summer. However, in situ observations are sparse and haboobs are frequently concealed by clouds in satellite imagery. Furthermore, most large-scale weather and climate models lack haboobs, because they do not explicitly represent convection. Here a 1 year long model run with explicit representation of convection delivers the first full seasonal cycle of haboobs over northern Africa. Using conservative estimates, the model suggests that haboobs contribute one fifth of the annual dust-generating winds over northern Africa, one fourth between May and October, and one third over the western Sahel during this season. A simple parameterization of haboobs has recently been developed for models with parameterized convection, based on the downdraft mass flux of convection schemes. It is applied here to two model runs with different horizontal resolutions and assessed against the explicit run. The parameterization succeeds in capturing the geographical distribution of haboobs and their seasonal cycle over the Sahara and Sahel. It can be tuned to the different horizontal resolutions, and different formulations are discussed with respect to the frequency of extreme events. The results show that the parameterization is reliable and may solve a major and long-standing issue in simulating dust storms in large-scale weather and climate models.