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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Mar 2019

Research article | 12 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

A Tale of Two Dust Storms: Analysis of a Complex Dust Event in the Middle East

Steven D. Miller1, Louie Grasso1, Quijing Bian2, Sonia Kreidenweis2, Jack Dostalek1, Jeremy Solbrig1, Jennifer Bukowski2, Susan C. van den Heever2, Yi Wang3, Xiaoguang Xu3,a, Jun Wang3, Annette Walker4, Ting-Chi Wu1, Milija Zupanski1, Christine Chiu2, and Jeffrey Reid4 Steven D. Miller et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
  • 3Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
  • 4Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, CA
  • anow at: Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, MD

Abstract. Lofted mineral dust over data-sparse regions presents considerable challenges to satellite-based remote sensing methods and numerical weather prediction alike. The Southwest Asia domain is replete with such examples, with its diverse array of dust sources, dust mineralogy, and meteorologically-driven lofting mechanisms on multiple spatial and temporal scales. A microcosm of these challenges occurred over 3–4 August 2016 when two dust plumes, one lofted within an inland dry air mass and another embedded within a moist air mass, met over the Southern Arabian Peninsula. Whereas conventional infrared-based techniques readily detected the dry air mass dust plume, they experienced marked difficulties in detecting the moist air mass dust plume, which only became apparent when visible reflectance revealed it crossing over an adjacent dark water background. In combining information from numerical modelling, multi-satellite/multi-sensor observations of lofted dust and moisture profiles, and idealized radiative transfer simulations, we develop a better understanding of the environmental controls of this event, characterizing the sensitivity of infrared-based dust detection to column water vapor, dust vertical extent, and dust optical properties. Differences in assumptions of dust complex refractive index translate to variations in the sign and magnitude of the split-window brightness temperature difference commonly used for detecting mineral dust. A multi-sensor technique for mitigating the radiative masking effects of water vapor via modulation of the split-window dust-detection threshold, predicated on idealized simulations tied to these driving factors, is proposed and demonstrated. The new technique, indexed to independent-sensor description of the surface-to-500 mb atmospheric column moisture, reveals parts of the missing dust plume embedded in the moist air mass, with best performance over land surfaces.

Steven D. Miller et al.
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Status: open (until 05 Jun 2019)
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Steven D. Miller et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Satellite-based detection of lofted mineral dust by way of infrared channels, well established in the literature, faces significant challenges in the presence of atmospheric moisture. Here, we consider a case featuring the juxtaposition of two dust plumes embedded within dry and moist air masses. The case is considered from the vantage points of numerical modeling, multi-sensor observations, and radiative transfer theory, arriving at a new method for mitigating the water vapor masking effect.
Satellite-based detection of lofted mineral dust by way of infrared channels, well established...