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Dust Plumes off Western Africa.

Mineral dust is a term used to indicate atmospheric aerosols originated from the suspension of minerals constituting the soil, being composed of various oxides and carbonates. Human activities lead to 30% of the dust load in the atmosphere. The Sahara Desert is the major source of mineral dust, which subsequently spreads across the Mediterranean (where is the origin of rain dust) and Caribbean seas into northern South America, Central America, North America, and Europe. Additionally, it plays a significant role in the nutrient inflow to the Amazon rainforest.[1] The Gobi Desert is another source of dust in the atmosphere, which affects eastern Asia and western North America.

Characteristics[edit]

Mineral dust is mainly constituted of the oxides (SiO2, Al2O3, FeO, Fe2O3, CaO, and others) and carbonates (CaCO3, MgCO3) that constitute the Earth's crust.

Global mineral dust emissions are estimated at 1000-5000 millions of tons per year,[2] of which the largest part is attributed to deserts. Although this aerosol class is usually considered of natural origin, it is estimated that about a quarter of mineral dust emissions could be ascribed to human activities through desertification and land use changes.[3]

Large dust concentrations may cause problems to people having respiratory problems. Another effect of dust clouds is more colorful sunsets.

Saharan dust[edit]

The Sahara is the major source on Earth of mineral dust (60-200 millions of tons per year). Saharan dust can be lifted by convection over hot desert areas, and can thus reach very high altitudes; from there it can be transported worldwide by winds, covering distances of thousands of kilometers. The dust combined with the extremely hot, dry air of the Sahara Desert often forms an atmospheric layer called the Saharan Air Layer which has significant effects on tropical weather, especially as it interferes with the development of hurricanes.

There is a large variability in the dust transport across the Atlantic into the Caribbean and Florida from year to year. Due to the trade winds, very large concentrations of mineral dust can be found in the tropical Atlantic, reaching the Caribbean; moreover episodic transport to the Mediterranean region as well as Northern Europe is observed. Saharan plumes can form iberulites (a particular tropospheric aggregation of aerosols) when these plumes travel through North Africa and the eastern North Atlantic Ocean, and often reach the circum-Mediterranean areas of Western Europe. In the Mediterranean region, Saharan dust is important as it represents the major source of nutrients for phytoplankton and other aquatic organisms. Saharan dust carries the fungus Aspergillus sydowii and others.[4] Aspergillus borne by Saharan dust falls into the Caribbean Sea and possibly infects coral reefs with Sea Fan disease (aspergillosis). It also has been linked to increased incidence of pediatric asthma attacks in the Caribbean. Since 1970, dust outbreaks have worsened due to periods of drought in Africa.[5] Dust events have been linked to a decline in the health of coral reefs across the Caribbean and Florida, primarily since the 1970s.[6]

Effect on hurricane frequency[edit]

According to a NASA article,[7] NASA satellites have shown that "the chilling effect of dust was responsible for one-third of the drop in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures between June 2005 and 2006, possibly contributing to the difference in hurricane activity between the two seasons." There were only 5 hurricanes in 2006 and compared with 15 in 2005.

It is known that one of the major factors that create hurricanes is warm water temperatures on the surface of the ocean. Evidence shows that dust from the Sahara desert caused surface temperatures to be cooler in 2006 than in 2005.

Asian dust[edit]

Main article: Asian dust
Aizuwakamatsu, Japan shrouded in Asian Dust on April 2nd, 2007.
Aizuwakamatsu, Japan with clear skies.

In Eastern Asia, mineral dust events originated in springtime in the Gobi Desert (Southern Mongolia and Northern China) gives rise to the phenomenon called Asian dust. The aerosols are carried eastward by prevailing winds, and pass over China, Korea, and Japan. Sometimes, significant concentrations of dust can be carried as far as the Western United States.[8] Areas affected by Asian dust experience decreased visibility and health problems, such as sore throat and respiratory difficulties. The effects of Asian dust, however, are not strictly negative, as it is thought that its deposition enrichs the soil with important trace minerals.

An American study[citation needed] analyzing the composition of Asian dust events reaching Colorado associates them to the presence of carbon monoxide, possibly incorporated in the air mass as it passes over industrialized regions in Asia. Although dust storms in the Gobi desert have occurred from time to time throughout history, they became a pronounced problem in the second half of the 20th century due to intensified agricultural pressure and desertification.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Koren, I.; Kaufman, Y. J.; Washington, R.; Todd, M. C.; Rudich, Y.; Martins, J. V.; Rosenfeld, D. (2006). "The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest". Environmental Research Letters 1: 014005. Bibcode:2006ERL.....1a4005K. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/1/1/014005.  edit
  2. ^ Huneeus, N.; Schulz, M.; Balkanski, Y.; Griesfeller, J.; Prospero, J.; Kinne, S.; Bauer, S.; Boucher, O.; Chin, M.; Dentener, F.; Diehl, T.; Easter, R.; Fillmore, D.; Ghan, S.; Ginoux, P.; Grini, A.; Horowitz, L.; Koch, D.; Krol, M. C.; Landing, W.; Liu, X.; Mahowald, N.; Miller, R.; Morcrette, J. -J.; Myhre, G.; Penner, J.; Perlwitz, J.; Stier, P.; Takemura, T.; Zender, C. S. (2011). "Global dust model intercomparison in Aero Com phase I". Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11 (15): 7781. doi:10.5194/acp-11-7781-2011.  edit
  3. ^ Ginoux, P.; Prospero, J. M.; Gill, T. E.; Hsu, N. C.; Zhao, M. (2012). "Global-scale attribution of anthropogenic and natural dust sources and their emission rates based on MODIS Deep Blue aerosol products". Reviews of Geophysics 50 (3). doi:10.1029/2012RG000388.  edit
  4. ^ Schlesinger, P.; Mamane, Y.; Grishkan, I. (2006). "Transport of microorganisms to Israel during Saharan dust events". Aerobiologia 22 (4): 259. doi:10.1007/s10453-006-9038-7.  edit "On a spring clear day, the persisting airborne fungi were Alternaria alternata, Geotrichum candidum, Penicillium chrysogenum, and P. glabrum. However, during two dust events the fungal population was dominated by Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus fumigatus, A. niger, A. thomii, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Penicillium chrysogenum, and P. griseoroseum. This study suggests that Saharan and other desert dust events in the East Mediterranean have a significant effect on the airborne microbial populations, which might impact on health, agriculture, and ecology."
  5. ^ Usinfo.state.gov. Study Says African Dust Affects Climate in U.S., Caribbean. Retrieved on 2007-06-10.
  6. ^ U. S. Geological Survey. Coral Mortality and African Dust. Retrieved on 2007-06-10.
  7. ^ Sharan Dust has chilling effect on North Atlantic
  8. ^ University of Utah Department of Meteorology. Dr. Kevin Perry is quoted in BALTIMORE SUN article, "Blowing in the Wind". Retrieved on 2007-06-10.
  • Kubilay and Saydam, "Trace elements in atmospheric particulates over the Eastern Mediterranean: concentration, sources, and temporal variability", Atmospheric Environment 29, 2289-2300 (1995).
  • Morales, "The airborne transport of Saharan dust: a review", Climate Change 9, 219-241 (1986).
  • Loyë-Pilot et al., "Influence of Saharan dust on the rain acidity and atmospheric input to the Mediterranean", Nature 321, 427-428 (1986).
  • Sokolik and Toon, "Direct radiative forcing by anthropogenic airborne mineral aerosols", Nature 381, 681-683 (1996).
  • Tegen and Fung, "Contribution to the atmospheric mineral aerosol load from land surface modification", Journal of Geophysical Research 100, 18707-18726 (1995).
  • Yücekutlu, N., Terzioğlu, S., Saydam, C., and Bildacı, I., Organic Farming By Using Saharan Soil: Could It Be An Alternative To Fertilizers? Hacettepe J. Biol. and Chem., 39 (1), 29–37, 2011.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_dust — Please support Wikipedia.
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270 news items

International Business Times AU

International Business Times AU
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:41:15 -0800

Tonnes of mineral dust from the Sahara traverse the Atlantic Ocean annually and supply the Amazon rainforest with essential nutrients. Scientists at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) were able to approximate the amount of ...
 
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 19:45:00 -0800

At a recent presentation in Hibbing, researchers said Iron Range air has low concentrations of mineral dust, with rare detections of longer particles, which are a focus of the health concerns. Particle concentrations were lower in the Iron Range ...
 
Economic Times
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:17:20 -0800

PM are very small particles made up of different organic and inorganic components - the major constituents include acids (sulphate and nitrates), ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, water and mineral dust - which originate from various sources that ...

The Australian

The Australian
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 05:06:45 -0800

Mineral dust and soot from bushfires, floating thousands of metres above Australia, make summer downpours possible. Scientists are excited by growing evidence that live bacteria and fungi in the troposphere, and perhaps algae and pollen as well, act as ...

CBC.ca

CBC.ca
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 02:07:30 -0800

"You certainly don't want to eat grey or brownish snow that's got mineral dust or soot," said Nolin. "If it's in a snow drift next to a road, I would not eat that." But the bottom line: if you're tempted to eat freshly fallen snow, it's going to be ...

Livemint

Livemint
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 03:53:54 -0800

Particulate matter (PM), which can include sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water, are considered the most dangerous air pollutants. These can settle deep inside the lungs, making people vulnerable to ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 18:39:00 -0800

Following this, even though I have already used boluses, I introduced a high spec mineral dust on top of the silage. One calf was lost at the calving because she was left too long. Generally, cows and heifers are calving quickly and calves are getting ...

Chemistry World

Chemistry World
Thu, 09 May 2013 11:14:30 -0700

Mineral dust that swirls up into the atmosphere from Earth's surface plays a far more important role in both cloud formation and cloud chemistry than was previously realised. The findings will feed into models of cloud formation and chemistry to help ...
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