ESRL/PSD Seminar Series
PSD Flash Seminar
Dust and biological aerosols from the Sahara and Asia
influence precipitation in the Western US.
NOAA/ESRL/PSD Water Cycle Branch
Winter storms in California's Sierra Nevada increase seasonal snowpack
and provide critical water resources and hydropower for the state. Thus,
the mechanisms influencing precipitation in this region have been the
subject of research for decades. Previous studies suggest Asian dust
enhances cloud ice and precipitation, whereas few studies consider
biological aerosols as an important global source of ice nuclei (IN).
Here, we show that dust and biological aerosols transported from as far
as the Sahara were present in glaciated high-altitude clouds coincident
with elevated IN concentrations and ice-induced precipitation. This
study presents the first direct cloud and precipitation measurements
showing that Saharan and Asian dust and biological aerosols probably
serve as IN and play an important role in orographic precipitation
processes over the western United States.
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