1Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Albany, 251 Fuller Rd, Albany, New York 12203, USA
2Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
3NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Howard University Washington, DC 20001, USA
Abstract. Observational studies suggest that the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), an elevated layer (850–500 hPa) of Saharan air and mineral dust, has strong impacts on the microphysical as well as dynamical properties of tropical deep convective cloud systems along its track. In this case study, numerical simulations using a two-dimensional Detailed Cloud Resolving Model (DCRM) were carried out to investigate the dust-cloud interactions in the tropical deep convection, focusing on the dust role as Ice Nuclei (IN).
The simulations showed that mineral dust considerably enhanced heterogeneous nucleation and freezing at temperatures warmer than −40 °C, resulting in more ice hydrometeors number concentration and reduced precipitating size of ice particles. Because of the lower in the saturation over ice as well as more droplet freezing, total latent heating increased, and consequently the updraft velocity was stronger.
On the other hand, the increased ice deposition consumed more water vapor at middle troposphere, which induces a competition for water vapor between heterogeneous and homogeneous freezing and nucleation. As a result, dust suppressed the homogeneous droplet freezing and nucleation due to the heterogeneous droplet freezing and the weakened transport of water vapor at lower stratosphere, respectively. These effects led to decreased number concentration of ice cloud particles in the upper troposphere, and consequently lowered the cloud top height during the stratus precipitating stage.
Acting as IN, mineral dust also influenced precipitation in deep convection. It initiated earlier the collection because dust-related heterogeneous nucleation and freezing at middle troposphere occur earlier than homogeneous nucleation at higher altitudes. Nevertheless, the convective precipitation was suppressed by reduced collection of large graupel particles and insufficient fallout related to decreased sizes of precipitating ice hydrometeors. On the contrary, dust increased the precipitation in stratiform precipitation through deposition growth. Overall, the comprehensive effects of mineral dust suppressed the precipitation by up to 22%.