Surface winds and dust biases in climate models

TitleSurface winds and dust biases in climate models
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsEvan AT
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date Published2018/01
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0094-8276
Accession NumberWOS:000425514300066
Keywordsaerosols; african dust; atlantic; climate; dust; Geology; gocart model; models; transport

An analysis of North African dust from models participating in the Fifth Climate Models Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) suggested that, when forced by observed sea surface temperatures, these models were unable to reproduce any aspects of the observed year-to-year variability in dust from North Africa. Consequently, there would be little reason to have confidence in the models' projections of changes in dust over the 21st century. However, no subsequent study has elucidated the root causes of the disagreement between CMIP5 and observed dust. Here I develop an idealized model of dust emission and then use this model to show that, over North Africa, such biases in CMIP5 models are due to errors in the surface wind fields and not due to the representation of dust emission processes. These results also suggest that because the surface wind field over North Africa is highly spatially autocorrelated, intermodel differences in the spatial structure of dust emission have little effect on the relative change in year-to-year dust emission over the continent. I use these results to show that similar biases in North African dust from the NASA Modern Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) version 2 surface wind field biases but that these wind biases were not present in the first version of MERRA.

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