Impact of Desiccation of Aral Sea on the Regional Climate of Central Asia Using WRF Model

Ashish Sharma, Huei Ping Huang, Peter Zavialov, Valentina Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study explores the impacts of the desiccation of the Aral Sea and large-scale climate change on the regional climate of Central Asia in the post-1960 era. A series of climate downscaling experiments for the 1960’s and 2000’s decades were performed using the Weather Research and Forecast model at 12-km horizontal resolution. To quantify the impacts of the changing surface boundary condition, a set of simulations with an identical lateral boundary condition but different extents of the Aral Sea were performed. It was found that the desiccation of the Aral Sea leads to more snow (and less rain) as desiccated winter surface is relatively much colder than water surface. In summer, desiccation led to substantial warming over the Aral Sea. These impacts were largely confined to within the area covered by the former Aral Sea and its immediate vicinity, although desiccation of the Sea also led to minor cooling over the greater Central Asia in winter. A contrasting set of simulations with an identical surface boundary condition but different lateral boundary conditions produced more identifiable changes in regional climate over the greater Central Asia which was characterized by a warming trend in both winter and summer. Simulations also showed that while the desiccation of the Aral Sea has significant impacts on the local climate over the Sea, the climate over the greater Central Asia on inter-decadal time scale was more strongly influenced by the continental or global-scale climate change on that time scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-478
Number of pages14
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Volume175
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aral Sea
  • Dynamic downscaling
  • Lake-effect snow
  • Regional climate
  • Semi-arid region
  • Temperate and precipitation
  • WRF model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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