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Zhining Tao, Scott A. Braun, Jainn J. Shi, Mian Chin, Dongchul Kim, Toshihisa Matsui, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard


A Saharan air layer (SAL) event associated with a nondeveloping African easterly wave (AEW) over the main development region of the eastern Atlantic was sampled by the NASA Global Hawk aircraft on 24–25 August 2013 during the NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) campaign and was simulated with the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) Model. Airborne, ground-based, and spaceborne measurements were used to evaluate the model performance. The microphysical and radiative effects of dust and other aerosols on the SAL structure and environment were investigated with the factor-separation method. The results indicate that relative to a simulation without dust–radiative and microphysical impacts, Saharan dust and other aerosols heated the SAL air mainly through shortwave heating by the direct aerosol–radiation (AR) effect, resulting in a warmer (up to 0.6 K) and drier (up to 5% RH reduction) SAL and maintaining the strong temperature inversion at the base of the SAL in the presence of predominant longwave cooling. Radiative heating of the dust accentuated a vertical circulation within the dust layer, in which air rose (sank) in the northern (southern) portions of the dust layer. Furthermore, above and to the south of the dust layer, both the microphysical and radiative impacts of dust tended to counter the vertical motions associated with the Hadley circulation, causing a small weakening and southward shift of convection in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and reduced anvil cloud to the north. Changes in moisture and cloud/precipitation hydrometeors were largely driven by the dust-induced changes in vertical motion. Dust strengthened the African easterly jet by up to ~1 m s−1 at the southern edge of the jet, primarily through the AR effect, and produced modest increases in vertical wind shear within and in the vicinity of the dust layer. These modulations of the SAL and AEW environment clearly contributed to the nondevelopment of this AEW.

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