05 Oct 2022
05 Oct 2022

The role of dust sources in the Tibetan Plateau may be Underestimated: A high-resolution simulation study of regional differences in dust characteristics in the Tibetan Plateau

Yunshu Zhang1, Jiening Liang1, Zhida Zhang1, Bentao Li1, Haotian Zhang1, Xianjie Cao1, Pengfei Tian1, and Lei Zhang1,2 Yunshu Zhang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Semi-Arid Climate Change, Ministry of Education, College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, Gansu, China
  • 2Provincial-Ministry Collaborative Innovation Center for Western Ecological Security, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, Gansu, China

Abstract. Because of the unique geographical location of the Tibetan Plateau and its important role in global climate change, aerosol variability over the plateau has been of wide interest to the academic community. Most studies have focused on the influence of external aerosols; however, a few studies have been conducted on dust aerosols within the plateau. In this study, the plateau was divided into three regions, west, south, and north based on surface vegetation and climatic characteristics, and the Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry was used to simulate the Tibetan Plateau from 2004 to 2006 to quantify the spatial and temporal variability of dust within the plateau with high resolution. The dust sources of the plateau are located in the northern part of the Qiangtang Plateau, the Yarlung Tsangpo River basin, the Namucuo and Lhasa regions, the Qaidam Basin, the source areas of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, and the Qinghai Lake and its surrounding areas. Owing to windy weather and arid soil conditions, the dust emissions of the three regions reached 11.00 × 107 (west), 3.30 × 107 (south) and 4.50 × 107 (north) μg·m-2, during winter, and remained at a low level from May to October. Although the annual variation in dust emissions was relatively consistent across the three regions, there were substantial differences in dust loading, with almost no dust present in the atmosphere in the south, a peak dust loading of 94.00 × 105 μg·m-2 in January in the west, and a bimodal structure in the north with peaks in April and October and a maximum value of 13.00 × 1010 μg·m-2, which was primarily influenced by the temperature 2 m above the ground. In summer 10 % of the dust that starts in the interior of the plateau can be transported to the upper troposphere (above 8 km).

Yunshu Zhang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-776', Anonymous Referee #2, 20 Oct 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Zhang Yunshu, 21 Oct 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC1', Zhang Yunshu, 14 Nov 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-776', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Oct 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Zhang Yunshu, 14 Nov 2022

Yunshu Zhang et al.

Yunshu Zhang et al.


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Short summary
This paper used the WRF-Chem model to simulate different climatic regions of the Tibetan Plateau with finer resolution from 2004 to 2006 and fond that the dust sources are mainly concentrated in the western part of the plateau, while the dust loading of the northern part is the highest. This suggests that dust in the western area can rapidly fall back to the ground after being blown up, while dust in the north can stay in the atmosphere for a long time. That would be useful to future research.