Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Jennifer Collins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lori Collins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles H. Paxton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jason Dunion, M.S.

Keywords

aerosols, cloud condensation nuclei, cyclones, SAL

Abstract

Numerous factors play a role in the development and maintenance of North Atlantic tropical cyclones as they originate and cross the Main Development Region. These factors include sea-surface temperatures (SSTs), relative humidity, vertical wind shear, etc. One key player in many of these factors is the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) which has been a source for study for nearly five decades.

The interplay between dust loading within the SAL and the development of African Easterly Waves (AEWs) has been repeatedly noted in many of the studies in this field. The cumulative indirect effect of the dust on AEWs however remains unknown (Evan et al., 2006a). On a case by case basis, the SAL has been shown to negatively influence the development of AEWs, i.e. entrainment of dry air into the low to mid-levels, enhanced vertical wind shear and suppression of convection within the storm (Dunion & Velden, 2004). Positive influences on AEW development have also been attributed to the SAL, namely its enhancement of the African Easterly Jet (AEJ) which in turn helps produce positive vorticity along its southern edge that AEWs tap into for energy (Karyampudi & Pierce, 2002).

Further study is indeed warranted to try to fully understand whether or not the SAL has a positive or negative influence on the development of AEWs. A polarized view may be inadequate, as the SAL’s role could very well be positive, negative or somewhere in between depending on the storm characteristics and environmental conditions present at that unique time.

This study looked into the role dust loading has on the mixing between the SAL and the moist marine boundary layer directly beneath the base of the SAL, which can range from 500 – 1500m and revealed a dynamic and varying relationship. It also demonstrated, through a decrease in cloud top temperatures, that dust levels are associated with the convective strength of AEWs by acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs). However this association can be nullified through other parameters unique to each individual storm; SSTs, vertical wind shear, dry-air entrainment, etc.

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