Dust and Biological Aerosols from the Sahara and Asia Influence Precipitation in the Western US

TitleDust and Biological Aerosols from the Sahara and Asia Influence Precipitation in the Western US
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsCreamean JM, Suski KJ, Rosenfeld D, Cazorla A, DeMott PJ, Sullivan RC, White AB, Ralph FM, Minnis P, Comstock JM, Tomlinson JM, Prather KA
JournalScience
Volume339
Pagination1572-1578
Date Published2013/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0036-8075
Accession NumberWOS:000316731600040
Keywordsair-pollution; atmospheric ice nuclei; climate; cloud; liquid; mixed-phase; orographic enhancement; particles; spectrometer; suppression; water
Abstract

Winter storms in California's Sierra Nevada increase seasonal snowpack and provide critical water resources and hydropower for the state. Thus, the mechanisms influencing precipitation in this region have been the subject of research for decades. Previous studies suggest Asian dust enhances cloud ice and precipitation, whereas few studies consider biological aerosols as an important global source of ice nuclei (IN). Here, we show that dust and biological aerosols transported from as far as the Sahara were present in glaciated high-altitude clouds coincident with elevated IN concentrations and ice-induced precipitation. This study presents the first direct cloud and precipitation measurements showing that Saharan and Asian dust and biological aerosols probably serve as IN and play an important role in orographic precipitation processes over the western United States.

DOI10.1126/science.1227279
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