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The Role of Midlatitude Cyclones in the Emission, Transport, Production, and Removal of Aerosols in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Joseph Robinson,
  • Lyatt Jaegle,
  • Luke D. Oman
Joseph Robinson
University of Washington

Corresponding Author:jrobin15@uw.edu

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Lyatt Jaegle
University of Washington
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Luke D. Oman
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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We examine the distribution of aerosol optical depth (AOD) across 27,707 northern hemisphere (NH) midlatitude cyclones for 2005-2018 using retrievals from the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on the Aqua satellite. Cyclone-centered composites show AOD enhancements of 20-45% relative to background conditions in the warm conveyor belt (WCB) airstream. Fine mode AOD (fAOD) accounts for 68% of this enhancement annually. Relative to background conditions, coarse mode AOD (cAOD) is enhanced by more than a factor of two near the center of the composite cyclone, co-located with high surface wind speeds. Within the WCB, MODIS AOD maximizes in spring, with a secondary maximum in summer. Cyclone-centered composites of AOD from the Modern Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 Global Modeling Initiative (M2GMI) simulation reproduce the magnitude and seasonality of the MODIS AOD composites and enhancements. M2GMI simulations show that the AOD enhancement in the WCB is dominated by sulfate (37%) and organic aerosol (25%), with dust and sea salt each accounting for 15%. MODIS and M2GMI AOD are 60% larger in North Pacific WCBs compared to North Atlantic WCBs and show a strong relationship with anthropogenic pollution. We infer that NH midlatitude cyclones account for 355 Tg yr-1 of sea salt aerosol emissions annually, or 60% of the 30-80oN total. We find that deposition within WCBs is responsible for up to 35% of the total aerosol deposition over the NH ocean basins. Furthermore, the cloudy environment of WCBs leads to efficient secondary sulfate production.