Climate analysis and long range forecasting of dust storms in Iraq
Crook, Jacquelyn C.
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Skillful long range forecasts of dust storms have the potential to be very useful in planning operations by the Department of Defense (DoD) and other organizations. Our study assessed the potential to predict Iraq dust storms at long lead times (e.g., several weeks to several months). We examined two variables that associated with dust storms: precipitation rate and surface winds. To characterize conditions during dust storms, we generated averages (conditional means) of Iraq precipitation prior to, and winds during, dust storms, as well as the anomalies in those variables compared them to their long term means. We then identified statistically significant correlations between those Iraq variables and remote climate system variables. Those correlations were used to develop two long range predictors of dust favorable precipitation and winds in Iraq: (a) sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean; and (b) an index of the difference between sea level pressure near Tunisia and Kazakhstan (an indicator of surface winds). We used these predictors in an adaptation of the composite analysis forecast (CAF) method to hindcast and forecast dust favorable conditions in Iraq at lead times of one and two months. Verification of our results indicates that our method has a high potential for producing skillful long range forecasts of the potential for dust storms in Iraq.
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