Observational study of formation mechanism, vertical structure, and dust emission of dust devils over the Taklimakan Desert, China

Chong Liu, Tianliang Zhao, Xinghua Yang, Feng Liu, Yongxiang Han, Zhaopeng Luan, Qing He, Mark Rood, Wangki Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A field observation of dust devils was conducted at Xiaotang over the Taklimakan Desert (TD), China, from 7 to 14 July 2014. The measurements of dust devil opacity with the digital optical method and the observed atmospheric boundary layer conditions were applied to investigate the dust devils’ formation mechanism, vertical structure, and dust emissions. The critical conditions in the atmospheric boundary layer for dust devil formation were revealed with the land-air surface temperature difference of higher than 15°C, the enhanced momentum flux and sensible heat flux up to 0.54 kgm-1 s-2 and 327Wm-2, respectively, the weak vertical wind shear with the low wind shear index α<0.10, and the unstable stratification in the lower atmosphere. Based on observed dust opacities, it is identified that a typical dust devil was vertically structured with central updrafts and peripheral downdrafts of dust particles with the asymmetrically horizontal distribution of dust in a rotating dust column. The vertical flux of near-surface dust emissions was also estimated in a range from 5.4 × 10-5 to 9.6 × 10-5 kgm-2 s-1 for a typical dust devil event over TD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3608-3618
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume121
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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