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Impact of Dust Radiative Forcing upon ClimateDust aerosols perturb the atmospheric radiative flux at both solar and thermal wavelengths, altering the energy and water cycles. The climate adjusts by redistributing energy and moisture, so that local temperature perturbations, for example, depend upon the forcing over the entire extent of the perturbed circulation. Within regions frequently mixed by deep convection, including the deep tropics, dust particles perturb the surface air temperature primarily through radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Many models predict that dust reduces global precipitation. This reduction is typically attributed to the decrease of surface evaporation in response to dimming of the surface. A counterexample is presented, where greater shortwave absorption by dust increases evaporation and precipitation despite greater dimming of the surface. This is attributed to the dependence of surface evaporation upon TOA forcing through its influence upon surface temperature and humidity. Perturbations by dust to the surface wind speed and vegetation (through precipitation anomalies) feed back upon the dust aerosol concentration. The current uncertainty of radiative forcing attributed to dust and the resulting range of climate perturbations calculated by models remain a useful test of our understanding of the mechanisms relating dust radiative forcing to the climate response.
Document ID
Document Type
Book Chapter
Miller, Ronald L. (NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY United States)
Knippertz, Peter (Leeds Univ. United Kingdom)
Perez Garcia-Pando, Carlos (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Perlwitz, Jan P. (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Tegan, Ina (Leibniz Inst. for Tropospheric Research Leipzig, Germany)
Date Acquired
February 1, 2016
Publication Date
June 28, 2014
Publication Information
Publication: Mineral Dust: A Key Player in the Earth System
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Feedback upon dust mobilization
Climate response
Aerosol radiative forcing
Precipitation response