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Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Sources, compositions, and effects of atmospheric dust from American Drylands

Drylands Home | Human Health | Native Lands | Public Lands

Dust - Climatic, Geomorphic, Ecologic, Land-use, and Hydrologic Factors and Societal Effects

One area of focus for the project is aeolian dust primarily because of its critical but incompletely understood roles in issues of human health and ecosystem dynamics. This work also bears on air quality and visibility standards, management of lands to minimize wind erosion, transportation safety, and runoff from snowpack-melt. The methods of sampling and study, along with models, developed for North America can be applied to arid lands elsewhere to address the effects of mineral dust on humans and their environment.

We investigate causes and effects of aeolian dust with respect to geologic, ecologic, hydrologic, land-use, climatic, and human-health factors to:

Detect wind erosion and dust emission

Locate and describe recurrent dust sources

Determine factors responsible for dust emission

Model winds—insights into conditions of dust generation and dust-transport paths

Determine associations between dust deposition and dust generation

Characterize properties of dust (mineralogical, chemical, isotopic, textural, and geophysical)

Evaluate the effects of dust on human health

Anticipate future dust sources

Document the effects of human activities on dust emission-the last 150 years

Develop new methods to detect dust emission

Map wind-erosion vulnerability from space

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