An analysis of seasonal surface dust aerosol concentrations in the western US (2001-2004): Observations and model predictions

Wells, KC, Witek M, Flatau P, Kreidenwei SM, Westphal DL.  2007.  An analysis of seasonal surface dust aerosol concentrations in the western US (2001-2004): Observations and model predictions. Atmospheric Environment. 41:6585-6597.

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asian dust, canada, dust, long-range transport, particulate monitoring, rural aerosol, storms, united-states, valley


Long-term surface observations indicate that soil dust represents over 30% of the annual fine (particle diameter less than 2.5 mu m) particulate mass in many areas of the western US; in spring and summer, it represents an even larger fraction. There are numerous dust-producing playas in the western US, but surface dust aerosol concentrations in this region are also influenced by dust of Asian origin. This study examines the seasonality of surface soil dust concentrations at 15 western US sites using observations from the Interagency Monitoring of PROtected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network from 2001 to 2004. Average soil concentrations in particulate matter less than 10 mu m in diameter (PM 10) were lowest in winter and peaked during the summer months at these sites; however, episodic higher-concentration events (> 10 mu g m(-3)) occurred in the spring, the time of maximum Asian dust transport to the western US. Simulated surface dust concentrations from the Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS) suggested that long-range transport from Asia dominates surface dust concentrations in the western US in the spring, and that, although some long-range transport does occur throughout the year (1-2 mu g m(-3)), locally generated dust plays a larger role in the region in summer and fall. However, NAAPS simulated some anomalously high concentrations (> 50 mu g m(-3)) of local dust in the fall and winter months over portions of the western US. Differences between modeled and observed dust concentrations were attributed to overestimation of total observed soil dust concentrations by the assumptions used to convert IMPROVE measurements into PM(10) soil concentrations, lack of inhibition of model dust production in snow-covered regions, and lack of seasonal agricultural sources in the model. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.