The role of lateral boundary conditions in simulations of mineral aerosols by a regional climate model of Southwest Asia
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- Marcella, M.P. & Eltahir, E.A.B. Clim Dyn (2012) 38: 109. doi:10.1007/s00382-010-0992-y
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The importance of specifying realistic lateral boundary conditions in the regional modeling of mineral aerosols has not been examined previously. This study examines the impact of assigning values for mineral aerosol (dust) concentrations at the lateral boundaries of Regional Climate Model version 3 (RegCM3) and its aerosol model over Southwest Asia. Currently, the dust emission module of RegCM3 operates over the interior of the domain, allowing dust to be transported to the boundaries, but neglecting any dust emitted at these points or from outside the domain. To account for possible dust occurring at, or entering from the boundaries, mixing ratios of dust concentrations from a larger domain RegCM3 simulation are specified at the boundaries of a smaller domain over Southwest Asia. The lateral boundary conditions are monthly averaged concentration values (μg of dust per kg of dry air) resolved in the vertical for all four dust bin sizes within RegCM3’s aerosol model. RegCM3 simulations with the aerosol/dust model including lateral boundary conditions for dust are performed for a five year period and compared to model simulations without prescribed dust concentrations at the boundaries. Results indicate that specifying boundary conditions has a significant impact on dust loading across the entire domain over Southwest Asia. More specifically, a nearly 30% increase in aerosol optical depth occurs during the summer months from specifying realistic dust boundary conditions, bringing model results closer to observations such as MISR. In addition, smaller dust particles at the boundaries have a more important impact than large particles in affecting the dust loading within the interior of this domain. Moreover, increases in aerosol optical depth and dust concentrations within the interior domain are not entirely caused by inflow from the boundaries; results indicate that an increase in the gradient of concentration at the boundaries causes an increase of diffusion from the boundaries. Lastly, experiments performed using a climatology of dust concentrations yield similar results to those using actual monthly values. Therefore, using a climatology of dust mixing ratios is sufficient in implementing lateral boundary conditions for mineral aerosols. In short, this work concludes that realistic specification of lateral boundary conditions for mineral aerosols can be important in modeling the dust loading over arid regional climates such as Southwest Asia.