Effects of Atmospheric Aerosols on Tropical Cyclones using a High Resolution Global Climate Model

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Benjamin David Dillahunt, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL; and M. G. Flanner and C. M. Zarzycki

Atmospheric aerosols play a major role in the Earth's meteorological circulations ranging from microscale to global-scale phenomenon. Qualitatively and quantitatively describing specific effects aerosols have on tropical cyclones is difficult due to the limited number of observations, the interplay of complex physical processes, and the extreme environments that exist in tropical cyclones. Better understanding of the various effects aerosols have on tropical cyclones could potentially help improve storm intensity and storm track forecasts. In an attempt to gain greater understanding of aerosol influences on tropical cyclone development, simulations were conducted using an idealized, high-resolution, atmospheric global climate model with various aerosol concentrations. An aqua planet was used in the model with prescribed sea surface temperatures and different sets of prescribed aerosol packages for each different model simulation. Analysis of the model outputs show that increasing aerosol fields by 50 times and higher significantly decreases storm intensity compared to aerosol fields at climatological averages. At these same aerosol levels, areas of high and low pressure develop on the meso to synoptic scale and act as steering mechanisms for tropical cyclones. This indirect consequence is apparent through a majority of the model simulation run times. Future work will explore more realistic aerosol and storm environments to better understand how light-absorbing and scattering aerosols in different regions can impact tropical cyclone evolution.