Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

Content Description

1 electronic text (xv, 120 pages) : illustrations (some color), color map.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Fangqun Yu

Committee Members

Qilong Min, Ryan D. Torn, Chris J. Walcek


aerosols, DEAD, dust, emission, GEOS-Chem, modeling, Mineral dusts, Atmospheric aerosols

Subject Categories

Atmospheric Sciences


Mineral dust aerosols can impact air quality, climate change, biological cycles, tropical cyclone development and flight operations due to reduced visibility. Dust emissions are primarily limited to the extensive arid regions of the world, yet can negatively impact local to global scales, and are extremely complex to model accurately. Within this dissertation, the Dust Entrainment And Deposition (DEAD) model was adapted to run, for the first known time, using high temporal (hourly) and spatial (0.3°x0.3°) resolution data to methodically interrogate the key parameters and factors influencing global dust emissions. The dependence of dust emissions on key parameters under various conditions has been quantified and it has been shown that dust emissions within DEAD are largely determined by wind speeds, vegetation extent, soil moisture and topographic depressions. Important findings were that grid degradation from 0.3ºx0.3º to 1ºx1º, 2ºx2.5º, and 4°x5° of key meteorological, soil, and surface input parameters greatly reduced emissions approximately 13% and 29% and 64% respectively, as a result of the loss of sub grid detail within these key parameters at coarse grids. After running high resolution DEAD emissions globally for 2 years, two severe dust emission cases were chosen for an in-depth investigation of the root causes of the events and evaluation of the 2°x2.5° Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS)-Chem and 0.3°x0.3° DEAD model capabilities to simulate the events: one over South West Asia (SWA) in June 2008 and the other over the Middle East in July 2009. The 2 year lack of rain over SWA preceding June 2008 with a 43% decrease in mean rainfall, yielded less than normal plant growth, a 28% increase in Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD), and a 24% decrease in Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) observed visibility (VSBY) compared to average years. GEOS-Chem captured the observed higher AOD over SWA in June 2008. More detailed comparisons of GEOS-Chem predicted AOD and visibility over SWA with those observed at surface stations and from satellites revealed overall success of the model, although substantial regional differences exist. Within the extended drought, the study area was zoomed into the Middle East (ME) for July 2009 where multi-grid DEAD dust emissions using hourly CFSR meteorological input were compared with observations. The high resolution input yielded the best spatial and temporal dust patterns compared with Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and METAR VSBY observations and definitively revealed Syria as a major dust source for the region. The coarse resolution dust emissions degraded or missed daily dust emissions entirely. This readily showed that the spatial scale degradation of the input data can significantly impair DEAD dust emissions and offers a strong argument for adapting higher resolution dust emission schemes into future global models for improvements of dust simulations.