This Environmental Health News article discusses what climate change means for globe-traveling Saharan dust. As Sahara Desert dust makes its annual trip across the Atlantic into US air, scientists are seeking answers on what global warming means for future dust amounts, which could have a major influence on extreme weather and human health.
Reddish-brown spots show up on cars after a brief rain shower. A ring of mud appears in a white bucket put outside to collect rainfall. Sunsets might look more vivid, but the sky is hazier.
These are all signs that Saharan dust is blowing across the Atlantic Ocean to parts of North America, which it does every year from around May through July. This year’s dust is just reaching the U.S. now, and when it does, it’s “quite obvious” in Miami, according to Joseph Prospero.
There is currently no apparent trend in how much dust is blown away from the Sahara each year. Some decades, like the 1970s and 80s, have had more dust, while others had less. One study led by Evan tried to predict future dust amounts using computer modeling. A large fraction of the simulations, about 44 percent, showed a significant decrease in Saharan dust in the future.