U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Role of West Asian Desert Dust in Modulating Indian Monsoon
Published: March 16, 2014
Posted: August 11, 2014

The Indian summer monsoon rains are essential for providing the region’s water supply. Recent shifts in timing and strength have challenged scientists to unravel the complex factors that influence monsoon activity. Monsoons result from a complex interplay between solar warming of the air and land surface, dynamical circulation between land and ocean regions, and cloud-aerosol interactions, in addition to various other factors. However, the influence of aerosols alone on monsoon activity seems to be complex and uncertain. Previous theories have examined the roles of both pollution and natural desert dust aerosols. A team of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, India, used satellite data and models to show that desert dust aerosol levels over fairly remote regions of the Arabian Sea, West Asia, and Arabian Peninsula are positively correlated with the intensity of summer monsoon rainfall over India. They showed that dust and summer monsoon precipitation vary in concert over timescales of about a week. Global climate model simulations using the DOE/National Science Foundation-sponsored Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) support this remote link and indicate that, since dust suspended in the atmosphere absorbs solar heating, the variability in dust aerosol loadings can induce larger-scale atmospheric circulation changes, modulating moisture transport over the Arabian Sea and moisture flow into India, thereby changing monsoon rainfall on relatively short time scales. These findings highlight the importance of natural aerosols in influencing the strength of the Indian summer monsoon. Such an aerosol-induced remote link to monsoons was not known before, and the study clearly shows that aerosols of natural origin can have remote effects on large-scale circulations with important implications.

Reference: Vinoj, V., P. J. Rasch, H. Wang, J.-H. Yoon, P.-L. Ma, K. Landu, and B. Singh. 2014. “Short-Term Modulation of Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall by West Asian Dust,” Nature Geoscience 7, 308-13. DOI:10.1038/NGEO2107. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)