Submitted as: development and technical paper
07 Jul 2022
Submitted as: development and technical paper | 07 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Application of a Satellite-Retrieved Sheltering Parameterization (v1.0) for Dust Event Simulation with WRF-Chem v4.1

Sandra L. LeGrand1,2, Theodore W. Letcher3, Gregory S. Okin2, Nicholas P. Webb4, Alex R. Gallagher3, Saroj Dhital4, Taylor S. Hodgdon3, Nancy P. Ziegler3, and Michelle L. Michaels3 Sandra L. LeGrand et al.
  • 1U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Geospatial Research Laboratory, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
  • 2Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 3U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  • 4USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA

Abstract. Roughness features (e.g., rocks, vegetation, furrows, etc.) that shelter or attenuate wind flow over the soil surface can considerably affect the magnitude and spatial distribution of sediment transport in active aeolian environments. Existing dust and sediment transport models often rely on vegetation attributes derived from static land-use datasets or remotely-sensed greenness indicators to incorporate sheltering effects on simulated particle mobilization. However, these overly simplistic approaches do not represent the three-dimensional nature or spatiotemporal changes of roughness element sheltering. They also ignore the sheltering contribution of non-vegetation roughness features and photosynthetically-inactive (i.e., brown) vegetation common to dryland environments. Here, we explore the use of a novel albedo-based sheltering parameterization in a dust transport modeling application of the Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem). The albedo method estimates sheltering effects on surface wind friction speeds and dust entrainment from the shadows cast by subgrid-scale roughness elements. For this study, we applied the albedo-derived drag partition to the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) dust emission module and conducted a sensitivity study on simulated PM10 concentrations using the Georgia Institute of Technology-Goddard Global Ozone Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) model as implemented in WRF-Chem v4.1. Our analysis focused on a convective dust event case study from 3–4 July 2014 for the southwest United States desert region discussed by other published works. Previous studies have found that WRF-Chem simulations grossly overestimated the dust transport associated with this event. Our results show that removing the default erodibility map and adding the drag parameterization to the AFWA dust module markedly improved the overall magnitude and spatial pattern of simulated dust conditions for this event. Simulated PM10 values near the leading edge of the storm substantially decreased in magnitude (e.g., maximum PM10 values reduced from 17,151 μg m-3 to 8,539 μg m-3), bringing the simulated results into alignment with the observed PM10 measurements. Furthermore, the addition of the drag partition restricted the erroneous widespread dust emission of the original model configuration. We also show that similar model improvements can be achieved by replacing the wind friction speed parameter in the original dust emission module with globally-scaled surface wind speeds, suggesting that a well-tuned constant could be used as a substitute for the albedo-based product for short-duration simulations where surface roughness is not expected to change and for landscapes where roughness is constant over years to months. Though this alternative scaling method requires less processing, knowing how to best tune the model winds a priori could be a considerable challenge. Overall, our results demonstrate how dust transport simulation and forecasting with the AFWA dust module can be improved in vegetated drylands by calculating the dust emission flux with surface wind friction speed from a drag partition treatment.

Sandra L. LeGrand et al.

Status: open (until 09 Sep 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gmd-2022-157', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Aug 2022 reply

Sandra L. LeGrand et al.

Sandra L. LeGrand et al.


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Short summary
Ground cover affects dust emissions by reducing wind flow over the immediate soil surface. This study reviews a method for estimating ground cover effects on wind erosion from satellite-detected terrain shadows. We conducted a case study for a U.S. dust event using the Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model. Adding the shadow-based method for ground cover effects markedly improved simulated results and may lead to better dust modeling outcomes in vegetated drylands.