28 Feb 2022
28 Feb 2022

Reduced surface fine dust under droughts over the southeastern United States during summertime: observations and CMIP6 model simulations

Wei Li and Yuxuan Wang Wei Li and Yuxuan Wang
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA

Abstract. Drought is an extreme hydroclimate event that has been shown to cause the increase of surface fine dust near source regions, while the drought-dust relationship in regions predominantly influenced by long-range transported dust such as the southeastern US (SEUS) has received less attention. Using long-term surface fine dust observations, weekly US Drought Monitor (USDM), and monthly Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), this study unmasks spatial disparity in drought-dust relationships where the SEUS stands out as being abnormous in that it shows a decrease in surface dust concentrations during drought in contrast to the expected increase in dust found in other contiguous US (CONUS) regions. Surface fine dust was found to decrease by ~0.5 µg/m3 with a unit decrease of SPEI in the SEUS, as opposed to an increase of ~0.15 µg/m3 in the west. The anomalies of elemental ratios, satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD), and dust extinction coefficients suggest that both the emissions and trans-Atlantic transport of African dust are weakened when the SEUS is under droughts. Through the teleconnection patterns of negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a lower than normal and more northeastward displacement of the Bermuda High (BH) was present during SEUS droughts which resulted in less dust being transported into the SEUS. At the same time, enhanced precipitation in Sahel associated with the northward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) leads to lower dust emissions therein. Of the four selected models participating in the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), GISS-E2-1-G was found to perform the best in capturing the drought-dust sensitivity in the SEUS. This study reveals the mechanism of how regional-scale droughts influence aerosol abundance through changing long-range transport of dust.

Wei Li and Yuxuan Wang

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of “Reduced surface fine dust under droughts over the southeastern United States during summertime: observations and CMIP6 model simulations”', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-18', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 Apr 2022
  • AC1: 'Responses to Reviews', Wei Li, 17 May 2022

Wei Li and Yuxuan Wang

Wei Li and Yuxuan Wang


Total article views: 498 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
394 84 20 498 38 11 10
  • HTML: 394
  • PDF: 84
  • XML: 20
  • Total: 498
  • Supplement: 38
  • BibTeX: 11
  • EndNote: 10
Views and downloads (calculated since 28 Feb 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 28 Feb 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 472 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 472 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 17 May 2022
Short summary
Fine dust is an important component of PM2.5 and can be largely modulated by droughts. Opposite to the increase of dust in the southwest US where the major dust sources are located, dust in the southeast is affected more by the long-range transport from Africa and decreases under droughts. Both the transport and emissions of African dust are weakened when the southeast US is under droughts, which reveals how regional-scale droughts can influence aerosol abundance through long-range transport.