Taxonomy term

dust

Arizona road hazard has surprising source

Blowing dust is one of Arizona’s deadliest weather-related hazards. Between 1955 and 2011, brownout conditions created by dust storms caused more than 1,500 motor vehicle accidents across the state, resulting in 157 fatalities and more than 1,300 injuries, according to a 2016 NOAA Technical Memorandum.

25 Jan 2018

Dust influences pollution levels in eastern China

Air pollution often enshrouds cities in eastern China in a thick haze that impairs visibility and causes respiratory health problems. Emissions from human activity are mainly to blame, but climate researchers now report that natural forces — namely, dust kicked into the air by wind — can also exert a strong control over how much pollution persists in the air.

22 Aug 2017

Ups and downs of potassium feldspar may play role in clouds and climate

For water vapor in the atmosphere to transform into icy, cloud-forming droplets, it needs a seed around which to condense, such as aerosols, sea salt or bacteria. One of the most effective seeds is mineral dust, in particular potassium feldspar, one of the main ingredients in granite. New research tracking fluxes of potassium feldspar in the atmosphere through geologic time is shedding light on the long-term importance of the mineral in cloud formation and climate feedback cycles.

30 May 2017

Massive dust storm caused by climate, not conflict

In August and September 2015, a massive dust storm swept across the Middle East, engulfing seven nations in sand thick enough to ground flights, trigger respiratory distress for many, and obscure the region from satellites. At the time, the unprecedented size of the storm was blamed on the ongoing conflict in Syria, with unusual amounts of dust being raised from abandoned agricultural lands and increased military traffic. But a new study cites a combination of climatic factors and weather as the more likely culprits.

20 Apr 2017

Dust orbiting Jupiter is going the wrong way

Periodically, micrometeoroids strike one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto — sending dust into space, some of which enters into orbit around the gas giant. Recently, researchers charting the dusts’ orbits spotted some peculiar patterns, including some particles orbiting Jupiter in a retrograde fashion, by circling, when viewed from above, clockwise rather than counterclockwise.

03 Nov 2016

Electric fields lift dust into the air at massive scales

During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, black blizzards of dust enveloped the Great Plains, destroying crops. When farmers heard a crackling sound over the radio, they often knew a dust storm was coming, as such storms carry an electric field that can disrupt electronic equipment. Scientists have known since the 1800s that these fields exist, but how they might affect the swirling dust around them has not been understood. In airborne dust over the Sahara Desert, scientists have now directly measured these electric fields for the first time and found that, if strong enough, the fields can lift vast amounts of dust into the air.

25 Oct 2016

Red Planet Roundup: September 2016

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

13 Sep 2016

As an aerosolizer, dust devils demoted

Dust is an inescapable byproduct of a rocky planet reworked by tectonic forces, extraterrestrial impacts and human activities. And though it may seem like a nuisance, airborne dust plays an integral role in the Earth system, fertilizing downwind ecosystems and influencing climate. But just how dust gets lofted into the air has long puzzled scientists. Previous studies have suggested that dust devils could stir up as much as a third of the atmosphere’s dust budget, but new work reveals these twisters contribute just a tenth of that amount.

01 Aug 2015

Desert dust influences monsoon rains

India’s summer monsoons are stronger some years and weaker other years. This year-to-year variability dances around the mean by about 10 percent, but that difference can spell disaster in both arid and flood-prone regions. Pollutants and atmospheric circulation have long been blamed for wetter years and drier years, but now a new study has found that desert dust may also play a role.

17 Jul 2014

Sahara dust brings rain and snow to California

What triggers the mountain rain and snow that are vital to California’s water and energy needs? The answer, according to new research, is blowing in the wind: dust and bacteria from as far away as Africa’s Sahara Desert.

28 Feb 2013

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