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Impact of mineral dust on cloud formation in a Saharan outflow region

by L. Smoydzin, A. Teller, H. Tost, M. Fnais, J. Lelieveld
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()
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We present a numerical modelling study investi- gating the impact of mineral dust on cloud formation over the EasternMediterranean for two case studies: (i) 25 September 2008 and (ii) 28/29 January 2003. In both cases dust plumes crossed the Mediterranean and interacted with clouds form- ing along frontal systems. For our investigation we used the fully online coupled model WRF-chem. The results showthat increased aerosol concentrations due to the presence of mineral dust can enhance the formation of ice crystals. This leads to slight shifts of the spatial and temporal precipitation patterns compared to scenarios where dust was not considered to act as ice nuclei. However, the to- tal amount of precipitation did not change significantly. The only exception occurred when dust entered into an area of orographic ascent, causing glaciation of the clouds, leading to a local enhancement of rainfall. The impact of dust parti- cles acting as giant cloud condensation nuclei on precipita- tion formation was found to be small. Based on our simula- tions the contribution of dust to the CCN population is poten- tially significant only for warm phase clouds. Nevertheless, the dust-induced differences in the microphysical structure of the clouds can contribute to a significant radiative forcing, which is important from a climate perspective. 1

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