Toward Large‐Eddy Simulations of Dust Devils of Observed Intensity: Effects of Grid Spacing, Background Wind, and Surface Heterogeneities
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Toward Large‐Eddy Simulations of Dust Devils of Observed Intensity: Effects of Grid Spacing, Background Wind, and Surface Heterogeneities
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 124, 7697– 7718
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Toward Large‐Eddy Simulations of Dust Devils of Observed Intensity: Effects of Grid Spacing, Background Wind, and Surface Heterogeneities
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  • Description:
    Dust devils are convective vortices with a vertical axis of rotation made visible by lifted soil particles. Currently, there is great uncertainty about the extent to which dust devils contribute to the atmospheric aerosol input and thereby influence Earth's radiation budget. Past efforts to quantify the aerosol transport and study their formation, maintenance, and statistics using large‐eddy simulation (LES) have been of limited success. Therefore, some important features of dust devil‐like vortices simulated with LES still do not compare well with those of observed ones. One major difference is the simulated value of the core pressure drop, which is almost 1 order of magnitude smaller compared to the observed range of 250 to 450 Pa. However, most of the existing numerical simulations are based on highly idealized setups and coarse grid spacings. In this study, we investigate the effects of various factors on the simulated vortex strength with high‐resolution LES. For the fist time, we are able to reproduce observed core pressures by using a high spatial resolution of 2 m, a model setup with moderate background wind and a spatially heterogeneous surface heat flux. It is found that vortices mainly appear at the lines of horizontal flow convergence above the centers of the strongly heated patches, which is in contrast to some older observations in which vortices seemed to be created along the patch edges.
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