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Examination of the potential impacts of dust and pollution aerosol acting as cloud nucleating aerosol on water resources in the Colorado River Basin




Jha, Vandana, author
Cotton, William R., advisor
Rutledge, Steven A., committee member
Pierce, Jeffrey, committee member
Ramirez, Jorge, committee member

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In this study we examine the cumulative effect of dust acting as cloud nucleating aerosol (cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), giant cloud condensation nuclei (GCCN), and ice nuclei (IN)) along with anthropogenic aerosol pollution acting primarily as CCN, over the entire Colorado Rocky Mountains from the months of October to April in the year 2004-2005; the snow year. This ~6.5 months analysis provides a range of snowfall totals and variability in dust and anthropogenic aerosol pollution. The specific objectives of this research is to quantify the impacts of both dust and pollution aerosols on wintertime precipitation in the Colorado Mountains using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS). In general, dust enhances precipitation primarily by acting as IN, while aerosol pollution reduces water resources in the CRB via the so-called “spill-over” effect, by enhancing cloud droplet concentrations and reducing riming rates. Dust is more episodic and aerosol pollution is more pervasive throughout the winter season. Combined response to dust and aerosol pollution is a net reduction of water resources in the CRB. The question is by how much are those water resources affected? Our best estimate is that total winter-season precipitation loss for for the CRB the 2004-2005 winter season due to the combined influence of aerosol pollution and dust is 5,380,00 acre-feet of water. Sensitivity studies for different cases have also been run for the specific cases in 2004-2005 winter season to analyze the impact of changing dust and aerosol ratios on precipitation in the Colorado River Basin. The dust is varied from 3 to 10 times in the experiments and the response is found to be non monotonic and depends on various environmental factors. The sensitivity studies show that adding dust in a wet system increases precipitation when IN affects are dominant. For a relatively dry system high concentrations of dust can result in over-seeding the clouds and reductions in precipitation. However, when adding dust to a system with warmer cloud bases, the response is non-monotonical, and when CCN affects are dominant, reductions in precipitation are found.


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Colorado River Basin


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