Dust Sources and Climatology

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The significant dust sources are located in semi-arid and arid regions. Dust clouds arise when strong wind blows over loose fine soil (average size 2 microns) from a dry surface.

Published: 2 March 2010

The lecture begins by showing some of the positive and negative impacts of dust in the atmosphere, followed by some arguments about why dust storms are increasing.

The differences between dust and sandstorms are shown. While sandstorms only affect the area where there is strong surface wind, dust clouds can travel thousands of kilometers away from the source. The characteristics of favourable dust sources are then described.

The lecture will take you around the world to discover that the Sahara and dry lands around the Arabian Peninsula are the main source of airborne dust. The other significant dust emitters are located in Iran, Pakistan, India, China and Australia.

Finally, dust indices for climatological studies are presented in detail.

At the end of the lecture you will know:

  • some of the positive and negative impacts of dusty air;
  • differences between dust and sandstorms;
  • the dust source regions and dust climatology;
  • the characteristics of favourable dust sources;
  • the dust indices for climatological studies.

Pre-requisites: basic knowledge of geography and some knowledge about dust sources and dust climatology.

Category Language Difficulty Audio Duration Author
Atmosphere English Basic 60 min Humaid Al Badi


Dust Sources and Climatology presentation (PDF, 7 MB)

Dust Sources and Climatology recording (ZIP, 32 MB)

Centre of Excellence for Training in Satellite Meteorology (Met Office, Oman)



Y. Shao and C.H. Dong, 2006: A review on East Asian dust storm climate, modelling and monitoring. Global and Planetary Change, 52 (2006), 1–22.

S. Engelstaedter and R. Washington, 2007: Temporal controls on global dust emissions: The role of surface gustiness. Geoph.Res.Letters, Vol. 34, L15805.

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