Effects of dust on climate change

 

Photo credit: Daily Bruin

Jasper Kok, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, is helping elucidate the role dust plays in climate change. He said dust can have either a net cooling or net heating effect on the atmosphere depending on the size of the particles. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Professor works to clear up effects of dust on climate change

BY

Dust in the air can alter climate change in unpredictable ways, according to UCLA researchers.

Jasper Kok, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, published a paper in April detailing how aerosols such as desert dust can cause temperature and precipitation levels to fluctuate, accelerating climate change.

Kok said aerosols, or particles in the air, are important to consider in modeling climate change because the specks can scatter and absorb sunlight like greenhouse gases.

Additionally, aerosols can often act as the scaffolding upon which clouds can condense. Clouds regulate the temperature of the atmosphere by deflecting incoming sunlight or preventing heat from escaping into space.

“I think (studying desert dust) is the coolest because it’s a natural process, but it’s very much affected by human activity,” Kok said.

Kok said the Salton Sea, a saline lake in California’s Coachella Valley, shows how human actions can cause desertification. Changes in land use and irrigation led the Salton Sea to shrink in size, leaving behind a desert-like landscape that stirs dust up into the atmosphere, he said.

As a desert grows, the dust it produces leads to the atmosphere heating up, leading to more desertification and more dust in the air, Kok said.

“The abundance of particles in the atmosphere affects climate, but climate also affects the abundance of particles,” he said.

Kok said he was able to detect the highest concentrations of desert dust in the atmosphere by using satellite imagery. He added graduate students assisted in data collection by venturing into dust storms to measure the emission, size and quality of dust particles.

He said extraneous variables such as soil moisture and human activity can make it difficult to determine the impact of atmospheric dust on climate change.

“What will happen in the future is very unclear,” Kok said. “It depends on many different factors.”

Read the full article: Daily Bruin

Video images of a sand storm in Sudan

 

Go to: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/watch-this-huge-wall-dust-tower-above-sudans-khartoum-turning-sky-blood-red-1624476

Watch this huge wall of dust tower above Sudan’s Khartoum turning the sky blood red

Phenomenon known as a ‘haboob’ left buildings, cars and residents covered in thick blanket of sand.

The sky above the Sudanese capital of Khartoum turned blood red on Thursday (1 June) after a huge dust storm towered above and engulfed the city.

In what looked like a scene from an apocalyptic film, video footage shows a thick wall of dust approaching the city and quickly blanketing its buildings, cars and people.

Soil Erosion, Desertification and Dust Storms

 

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Disappearance of topsoil causes desert expansion and crop reduction in regions across the world. – https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/20/6c/2a/206c2ad371d266ecb1bb2a3539ac15a6.jpg

How Soil Erosion Contributes to Desertification and Dust Storms

Combating desertification is not fighting against nature, but restoring a respect for it.

 

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Dust obscures the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan (2001). Credit: Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

3 WAYS YOUR FOOD CHOICES COULD REVERSE DESERTIFICATION

“As Africa prospers, will diets improve?”

Photo credit: Google

South Africa’s farms are blowing away in Dust Bowl conditions

Africa: Focus On Poverty – Improving Nutrition Isn’t Just About Science

SciDev.Net

 

EXCERPT

“As Africa prospers, will diets improve?” The media has been pondering this question lately. On the one hand, veteran environmentalist Lester Brown warns that huge dustbowls could leave regions of northern Africa in serious agricultural trouble. [2] On the other, SciDev.Net reports encouraging progress on sweet potato production in Africa. So what do we need to know to make an assessment? Two recent academic studies are useful.

On the verge of retirement, noted environmentalist and celebrated systems analyst Lester Brown has a dire warning for the world - http://www.countercurrents.org/drou-colo-480.jpg
On the verge of retirement, noted environmentalist and celebrated systems analyst Lester Brown has a dire warning for the world – http://www.countercurrents.org/drou-colo-480.jpg

Both books draw out several interesting policy lessons and make clear that scientific research is only one element among many needed to improve people’s diets.

[1] David Leonhardt As Africa prospers, will diets improve? (New Telegraph, 16 February 2015)

[2] Suzanne Goldenberg Lester Brown: ‘Vast dust bowls threaten tens of millions with hunger’ (The Guardian, 25 February 2015)

Read the full article: allAfrica

 

Photo credit: Nature World News

Pictured: A conceptual image of dust from the Saharan Desert crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon rainforest in South America. (Photo : Conceptual Image Lab, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

How Saharan Dust Fertilizes Amazon Rainforest

By Jenna Iacurci

You would think that the Saharan Desert and Amazon rainforest are worlds apart. The African Sahara is a vast expanse of hot sand and arid air, while the Amazon is miles of lush, humid jungle covering northeast South America. But despite their stark contrasts, they are intimately connected. New research shows that each year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust crosses the Atlantic Ocean and fertilizes the Amazon rainforest.

This trans-Atlantic journey, described in the journalGeophysical Research Letters, provides insight into the role dust plays in the environment and its effects on local and global climate.

“We know that dust is very important in many ways. It is an essential component of Earth system. Dust will affect climate and, at the same time, climate change will affect dust,” study lead author Hongbin Yu said in a press release.

Read the full article: Nature World News

Sand storms in Korea

Photo credit: AsiaOne

The worst winter seasonal yellow dust in five years blanketed the Korean Peninsula, prompting the authorities to issue health warnings against the sandy, chemical-laden wind from China, according to domestic media.(AFP)

Yellow dust worsens in Korea

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Yellow dust swept into Korea on Sunday carrying with it fine dust particles that contain various pollutants, including carcinogens.

Although the yellow dust phenomenon occurs primarily in the spring, the country was hit on Monday by what the Korea Meteorological Administration said was the worst winter yellow dust in five years, resulting in the issuing of the sixth yellow dust warning since 2002.

On Monday morning, the KMA issued a yellow dust warning for Seoul which was subsequently lowered to an advisory in the late afternoon.

A yellow dust advisory is issued when an average concentration of more than 400 micrograms per cubic meter of PM10 particulates is expected to last more than two hours.

A warning is issued when a PM10 concentration of more than 800 micrograms per cubic meter is predicted.

PM10 refers to very fine airborne particles that are 10 micrometers or less in diameter ― less than one-seventh the diameter of a hair strand.

While children, the elderly and the infirm were advised to stay indoors, most Seoulites went about as normal, hoping that the mask that they were wearing would offer some protection.

However, regular cotton masks are ineffective against dust particles measuring 10 micrometers or less.

These particles are so fine that when inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs. Doctors have reported a sudden spike in the number of patients coming in with respiratory problems since Monday, attributable to the yellow dust that blanketed Seoul.

It seems there is no escaping the yellow dust plague.

Yellow dust originates in the deserts of southern Mongolia and northern China.

Read the full article: AsiaOne