771 The Impact of Saharan Air Layer Dust on the Intensity and Intensity Change of Hurricane Earl

Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Gary L. Bucher, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; and Z. Boybeyi

The study of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity and intensity change has become an increasingly important research topic, as the storms pose a significant threat to the lives and property along coastal regions, and maritime interests. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is an elevated layer of warm, dry, and dusty air that is formed by intense heating and strong winds over the Sahara desert. This dust, and hot and dry air moves across the Atlantic over the maritime layer. An emerging area of research is the role that the SAL has on the development and intensity of TCs in the North Atlantic tropical basin. In 2010, Hurricane Earl gave us a unique opportunity to study the effects of the SAL during the formative stages of the storm. Using the Weather and Forecasting Model with chemistry (WRF-Chem), this study investigated what the effect of SAL characteristics (thermodynamic and aerosol) had on Earl's intensity and intensity change. We concentrated on the direct and indirect radiative effects of the SAL aerosols, by utilizing the dust-only module in WRF-Chem and comparing results to observations, reanalysis, and a dust-free run. The results show that Earl did not appreciably intensify until it moved out from beneath the influence of the SAL, after which it evolved into a CAT 4 hurricane. This was due mainly to the shear associated with the SAL, but the dust radiative effects also contributed to the slow growth.
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