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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 4967-4986, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-4967-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 4967-4986, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-4967-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Apr 2016

Research article | 21 Apr 2016

Forecasting the northern African dust outbreak towards Europe in April 2011: a model intercomparison

N. Huneeus1,2, S. Basart3, S. Fiedler4,5,a, J.-J. Morcrette6, A. Benedetti6, J. Mulcahy7, E. Terradellas8, C. Pérez García-Pando9,10, G. Pejanovic11, S. Nickovic11,12, P. Arsenovic11,13, M. Schulz14, E. Cuevas15, J. M. Baldasano3,16, J. Pey12,17, S. Remy6,b, and B. Cvetkovic11 N. Huneeus et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, IPSL, CNRS/UPMC, Paris, France
  • 2Department of Geophysics and Center for Climate and Resilience Research, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • 3Earth Sciences Department, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, BSC-CNS, Barcelona, Spain
  • 4School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 5Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 6European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
  • 7Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 8Meteorological State Agency of Spain (AEMET), Barcelona, Spain
  • 9NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, USA
  • 10Department of Applied Physics and Applied Math, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 11National Hydrometeorological Service, Belgrade, Serbia
  • 12Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish Research Council, Barcelona, Spain
  • 13Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 14Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • 15Izaña Atmospheric Research Center, State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET), Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
  • 16Environmental Modelling Laboratory, Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
  • 17Geological Survey of Spain (IGME), Zaragoza, Spain
  • anow at: Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • bnow at: Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, IPSL, CNRS/UPMC, Paris, France

Abstract. In the framework of the World Meteorological Organisation's Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System, we evaluated the predictions of five state-of-the-art dust forecast models during an intense Saharan dust outbreak affecting western and northern Europe in April 2011. We assessed the capacity of the models to predict the evolution of the dust cloud with lead times of up to 72h using observations of aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and dust surface concentrations from a ground-based measurement network. In addition, the predicted vertical dust distribution was evaluated with vertical extinction profiles from the Cloud and Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP). To assess the diversity in forecast capability among the models, the analysis was extended to wind field (both surface and profile), synoptic conditions, emissions and deposition fluxes. Models predict the onset and evolution of the AOD for all analysed lead times. On average, differences among the models are larger than differences among lead times for each individual model. In spite of large differences in emission and deposition, the models present comparable skill for AOD. In general, models are better in predicting AOD than near-surface dust concentration over the Iberian Peninsula. Models tend to underestimate the long-range transport towards northern Europe. Our analysis suggests that this is partly due to difficulties in simulating the vertical distribution dust and horizontal wind. Differences in the size distribution and wet scavenging efficiency may also account for model diversity in long-range transport.

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Five dust models are evaluated regarding their performance in predicting an intense Saharan dust outbreak affecting western and northern Europe (NE). Models predict the onset and evolution of the event for all analysed lead times. On average, differences among the models are larger than differences in lead times for each model. The models tend to underestimate the long-range transport towards NE. This is partly due to difficulties in simulating the vertical dust distribution and horizontal wind.
Five dust models are evaluated regarding their performance in predicting an intense Saharan dust...
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