Climate Change Implications and Use of Early Warning Systems for Global Dust Storms

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Lindsey Harriman, Contractor, USGS EROS, Sioux Falls, SD, United States
Increased changes in land cover and global climate have led to increased frequency and/or intensity of dust storms in some regions of the world. Early detection and warning of dust storms, in conjunction with effective and widespread information broadcasts, will be essential to the prevention and mitigation of future risks and impacts to people and the environment. Since frequency and intensity of dust storms can vary from region to region, there is a demonstrated need for more research to be conducted over longer periods of time to analyze trends of dust storm events [1]. Dust storms impact their origin area, but also land, water and people a great distance away from where dust finally settles [2, 3]. These transboundary movements and accompanying impacts further warrant the need for global collaboration to help predict the onset, duration and path of a dust storm. Early warning systems can help communicate when a dust storm is occurring, the projected intensity of the dust storm and its anticipated physical impact over a particular geographic area. Development of regional dust storm models, such as CUACE/Dust for East Asia, and monitoring networks, like the Sand and Dust Storm Warning Network operated by the World Meteorological Organization, and the use of remote sensing and satellite imagery derived products [4], including MODIS, are currently being incorporated into early warning and monitoring initiatives. However, to increase future certainty of impacts of dust storms on vulnerable populations and ecosystems, more research is needed to analyze the influences of human activities, seasonal variations and long-term climatic patterns on dust storm generation, movement and impact.

Sources: [1] Goudie, A.S. (2009), Dust storms: recent developments, J Environ. Manage., 90. [2] Lee, H., and Liu, C. (2004), Coping with dust storm events: information, impacts, and policymaking in Taiwan, TAO, 15(5). [3] Marx, S.K., McGowan, H.A., and Balz, K.S. (2009), Long-range dust transport from eastern Australia: a proxy for Holocene aridity and ENSO-type climate variability, Earth Planet Sci. Lett., 282. [4] Kimura, R. (2012), Factors contributing to dust storms in source regions producing the yellow-sand phenomena observed in Japan from 1993 to 2002, J. Arid Environ. 80