Dust Forecasting

The life-cycle of atmospheric aerosols is important for human health. Aerosols also have direct and indirect effects on meteorology, atmospheric chemistry and ultimately the global energy budget. Mineral dust is a major contributor to the atmospheric aerosol burden, and some estimates suggest it represents the largest single contributor globally. The modeling of mineral dust is important though complex. As such, a great deal of effort has been made to characterize the source regions and dust mobilization processes.

The NOAA Air Resources Laboratory actively develops the FENGSHA dust emissions parameterization that is utilized within the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS). FENGSHA was originally developed for the NWS National Air Quality Forecast Capability (NAQFC) as an offline preprocessor. Since then, FENGSHA has been adapted to the Global Ensemble Forecast System with Aerosols (GEFS-Aerosols), Rapid Refresh with Chemistry (WRF-Chem), and the Unified Forecast System based systems of UFS-Aerosols, UFS-CMAQ and the RRFS.

An example, shown here, of an extreme event within GEFS-Aerosols occurred from the Sahara desert in July 2020. The cloud of dust moves across the Atlantic Ocean reaching as far as the U.S. East Coast.