Assessing the contribution of the ENSO and MJO to Australian dust activity based on satellite- and ground-based observations
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Assessing the contribution of the ENSO and MJO to Australian dust activity based on satellite- and ground-based observations

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  • Journal Title:
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
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    Despite Australian dust's critical role in the regional climate and surrounding marine ecosystems, the controlling factors of the spatiotemporal variations of Australian dust are not fully understood. Here we assess the connections between observed spatiotemporal variations of Australian dust with key modes of large-scale climate variability, namely the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO). Multiple dust observations from the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET), weather stations, and satellite instruments, namely the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), are examined. The assessed multiple dust observations consistently identify the natural and agricultural dust hotspots in Australia, including the Lake Eyre basin, Lake Torrens basin, Lake Frome basin, Simpson Desert, Barwon–Darling basin, Riverina, Barkly Tableland, and the lee side of the Great Dividing Range, as well as a country-wide, austral spring-to-summer peak in dust activity. Our regression analysis of observed dust optical depth (DOD) upon an ocean Niño index confirms previous model-based findings on the enhanced dust activity in southern and eastern Australia during the subsequent austral spring and summer dust season following the strengthening of austral wintertime El Niño. Our analysis further indicates the modulation of the ENSO–dust relationship with the MJO phases. During sequential MJO phases, the dust-active center moves from west to east, associated with the eastward propagation of MJO, with the maximum enhancement in dust activity at about 120, 130, and 140∘ E, corresponding to MJO phases 1–2, 3–4, and 5–6, respectively. MJO phases 3–6 are favorable for enhanced ENSO modulation of dust activity, especially the occurrence of extreme dust events, in southeastern Australia, currently hypothesized to be attributed to the interaction between MJO-induced anomalies in convection and wind and ENSO-induced anomalies in soil moisture and vegetation.
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    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21(11), 8511-8530
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    CC BY
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