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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

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The relationships between the spring (March–May) dust storm frequency (DSF) of northern China, gridded precipitation based on gauge observations, wind velocity at different geopotential heights, satellite-measured land vegetation index, and grid box soil moisture data during 1982–2001 are examined using correlation analysis and singular value decomposition methods. The results show that the spring DSF time series has strong positive correlations with the upwind wind velocity but strong negative correlations with the antecedent summer (June–August) and annual (June of the prior year to May of the current year) precipitation and soil moisture anomalies, as well as with the spring vegetation condition across a region running northeast-southwest from the northeast China and China-Mongolia border to the Taklimakan Desert. This region has been identified as the major source of dust emission in northern China. The results suggest that the summer rainfall anomaly over an extensive area close to the China-Mongolia border is the primary factor that determines the local soil moisture condition in the summer and then the vegetation condition in the following spring through persistence of the soil moisture, eventually determining the variation pattern of the spring DSF in northern China.


Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union