A Tale of Two Dust Storms: Analysis of a Complex Dust Event in the Middle East
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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Lofted mineral dust over data-sparse regions presents considerable challenges to satellite-based remote sensing methods and numerical weather prediction alike. The southwest Asia domain is replete with such examples, with its diverse array of dust sources, dust mineralogy, and meteorologically driven lofting mechanisms on multiple spatial and temporal scales. A microcosm of these challenges occurred over 3-4 August 2016 when two dust plumes, one lofted within an inland dry air mass and another embedded within a moist air mass, met over the southern Arabian Peninsula. Whereas conventional infrared-based techniques readily detected the dry air mass dust plume, they experienced marked difficulties in detecting the moist air mass dust plume, becoming apparent when visible reflectance revealed the plume crossing over an adjacent dark water background. In combining information from numerical modeling, multi-satellite and multi-sensor observations of lofted dust and moisture profiles, and idealized radiative transfer simulations, we develop a better understanding of the environmental controls of this event, characterizing the sensitivity of infrared-based dust detection to column water vapor, dust vertical extent, and dust optical properties. Differences in assumptions of dust complex refractive index translate to variations in the sign and magnitude of the split-window brightness temperature difference commonly used for detecting mineral dust. A multi-sensor technique for mitigating the radiative masking effects of water vapor via modulation of the split-window dust-detection threshold, predicated on idealized simulations tied to these driving factors, is proposed and demonstrated. The new technique, indexed to an independent description of the surface-to-500 hPa atmospheric column moisture, reveals parts of the missing dust plume embedded in the moist air mass, with the best performance realized over land surfaces.
- Optical Detection and Detectors