Impact of radiatively interactive dust aerosols in the NASA GEOS-5 climate model: Sensitivity to dust particle shape and refractive index Academic Article uri icon


  • 2013. The Authors. The radiative effects of Saharan dust aerosols are investigated in the NASA GEOS-5 atmospheric general circulation model. A sectional aerosol microphysics model (CARMA) is run online in GEOS-5. CARMA treats the dust aerosol lifecycle, and its tracers are radiatively coupled to GEOS-5. A series of AMIP-style simulations are performed, in which input dust optical properties (particle shape and refractive index) are varied. Simulated dust distributions for summertime Saharan dust compare well to observations, with best results found when the most absorbing dust optical properties are assumed. Dust absorption leads to a strengthening of the summertime Hadley cell circulation, increased dust lofting to higher altitudes, and a strengthening of the African easterly jet, resulting in increased dust atmospheric lifetime and farther northward and westward transport. We find a positive feedback of dust radiative forcing on emissions, in contrast with previous studies, which we attribute to our having a relatively strong longwave forcing caused by our simulating larger effective particle sizes. This longwave forcing reduces the magnitude of midday net surface cooling relative to other studies, and leads to a nighttime warming that results in higher nighttime wind speeds and dust emissions. The radiative effects of dust particle shape have only minor impact on transport and emissions, with small (~5%) impact on top of atmosphere shortwave forcing, in line with previous studies, but relatively more pronounced effects on shortwave atmospheric heating and surface forcing (~20% increase in atmospheric forcing for spheroids). Shape effects on longwave heating terms are of order ~10%.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Colarco, P. R., Nowottnick, E. P., Randles, C. A., Yi, B., Yang, P., Kim, K., Smith, J. A., & Bardeen, C. G.

citation count

  • 129

complete list of authors

  • Colarco, Peter R||Nowottnick, Edward P||Randles, Cynthia A||Yi, Bingqi||Yang, Ping||Kim, Kyu‐Myong||Smith, Jamison A||Bardeen, Charles G

publication date

  • January 2014