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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Change in atmospheric mineral aerosols in response to climate: Last glacial period, preindustrial, modern, and doubled carbon dioxide climates

  • Author(s): Mahowald, Natalie M
  • Muhs, Daniel R
  • Levis, Samuel
  • Rasch, Philip J
  • Yoshioka, Masaru
  • Zender, Charles S
  • Luo, Chao
  • et al.

Desert dust simulations generated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Climate System Model for the current climate are shown to be consistent with present day satellite and deposition data. The response of the dust cycle to last glacial maximum, preindustrial, modern, and doubled-carbon dioxide climates is analyzed. Only natural (non-land use related) dust sources are included in this simulation. Similar to some previous studies, dust production mainly responds to changes in the source areas from vegetation changes, not from winds or soil moisture changes alone. This model simulates a +92%, +33%, and −60% change in dust loading for the last glacial maximum, preindustrial, and doubled-carbon dioxide climate, respectively, when impacts of carbon dioxide fertilization on vegetation are included in the model. Terrestrial sediment records from the last glacial maximum compiled here indicate a large underestimate of deposition in continental regions, probably due to the lack of simulation of glaciogenic dust sources. In order to include the glaciogenic dust sources as a first approximation, we designate the location of these sources, and infer the size of the sources using an inversion method that best matches the available data. The inclusion of these inferred glaciogenic dust sources increases our dust flux in the last glacial maximum from 2.1 to 3.3 times current deposition.

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