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Sensitivity of future desert dust source regions to model

PI: Natalie Mahowald
Institution: National Center for Atmospheric Research
Mineral aerosol deposition records in ice cores and their variability in the current climate suggests that they are very sensitive to climate. Thus it is possible that mineral aerosols will change in the future due to climate change impacts on vegetation, precipitation and wind speeds. Two studies have looked at the impact of future climate change on desert dust [Mahowald and Luo, 2003; Tegen et al., 2004] and came up with different sensitivities (20-60% decrease, or +/-20%, respectively). Part of these differences are likely to be due to differences in coupled models, and part due to differences in the methodologies used. In this CMIP study, we propose to use the methodology of Mahowald and Luo, 2003 with the different models to look at changes in desert dust source regions due to climate change and carbon dioxide. Although we may not be able to include accurately the impact of wind speed changes (because of the non-linearity of the dust source relationship to wind speed), we should be able to predict from monthly mean surface temperature, precipitation and cloudiness changes in desert areas, and their impact on desert dust source areas using the BIOME3 (Haxeltine and Prentice, 1996) equilibrium vegetation model. We propose to do this for all available models for future climate, and submit the resulting paper before May, 2005. This will allow us to assess the uncertainty in future desert dust source areas due to model uncertainties in precipitation, temperature and cloudiness changes, and possibly also due to wind speed changes in the source regions.
  • N. Mahowald, J.-F. Lamarque, X. Tie, E. Wolff, 2006: Sea salt aerosol response to climate change: last glacial maximum, pre-industrial and doubled carbon dioxide climates,. J. Geophys. Res, 111, doi:10.1029/2005JD006459. Abstract. Edit.
  • Natalie M. Mahowald, Anthropocene changes in desert area: Sensitivity to climate model predictions. Geophysical Research Letters. In press. Abstract. Edit.

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