Huang, JF, Zhang, CD, Prospero, JM (2009). African aerosol and large-scale precipitation variability over West Africa. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 4(1), 15006.
We investigated the large-scale connection between African aerosol and precipitation in the West African Monsoon (WAM) region using 8-year (2000-2007) monthly and daily Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aerosol products (aerosol optical depth, fine mode fraction) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation and rain type. These high-quality data further confirmed our previous results that the large-scale link between aerosol and precipitation in this region undergoes distinct seasonal and spatial variability. Previously detected suppression of precipitation during months of high aerosol concentration occurs in both convective and stratiform rain, but not systematically in shallow rain. This suggests the suppression of deep convection due to the aerosol. Based on the seasonal cycle of dust and smoke and their geographical distribution, our data suggest that both dust (coarse mode aerosol) and smoke (fine mode aerosol) contribute to the precipitation suppression. However, the dust effect is evident over the Gulf of Guinea while the smoke effect is evident over both land and ocean. A back trajectory analysis further demonstrates that the precipitation reduction is statistically linked to the upwind aerosol concentration. This study suggests that African aerosol outbreaks in the WAM region can influence precipitation in the local monsoon system which has direct societal impact on the local community. It calls for more systematic investigations to determine the modulating mechanisms using both observational and modeling approaches.