Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

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Hesham el-Askary


The Objective of our research was to investigate if there is a correlation between haboob outbreaks, resulting in large dust storms over Arizona, and the precipitation patterns over the region. We examined the extent of this correlation over the last ten years using satellite daily observations to highlight the possibility of better forecasts for precipitation events, such as monsoon thunderstorms. Our research indicates that haboobs increase precipitation in the Sonoran desert of Arizona because the dust particles are large enough to act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Data was collected from five locations spread out over the state of Arizona for the years of 2002-2012. The method we utilized was data oriented and required a quantitative analytical approach, where aerosol optical depth (AOD) data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite was collected and analyzed. Rainfall data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was collected and analyzed in coherence with the aerosol data. By manipulating this data into a time-series form, we determined the direct correlation between dust and precipitation events. It was found that increased dusty events increased precipitation with an average of two months lag time. Each of the five locations indicated that a strong correlation does exist between the AOD, Angstrom exponent, and precipitation data, indicating that the there are complex interactions occurring between dust and precipitation in Arizona at a microphysical level.


Presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University.