Physical Processes and Impact of Dust

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The first lecture of the Dust Week gives an overview of the dust problem.

Published: 1 March 2010

Sandstorms and suspended dust impact significantly and in various ways on the atmosphere and the environment in general. It is of prime importance, therefore, to study and understand the physical processes that lead to dust events, as well as the nature of the impacts.

Much progress has been made in characterisng /mapping dust sources and major dust flows. Starting with Meteosat Second Generation and its IR imaging channels dust transport can now be seamlessly monitored from the geostationary orbit right from origin to dilution. Modeling of dust release and transport has progressed to the point where it is now being integrated into operational NWP/ GC M models.

Impact of suspended dust goes from modifying the radiative energy budget and microphysical properties of clouds to influencing the carbon cycle and public health, as well as to disrupting certain services.

At the end of this lecture you should be better informed about:

  • What is dust
  • Why is dust lifted into the atmosphere
  • Where are the major dust bowls and flows
  • What makes dust observable from space
  • What do we gain by observing dust from geostationary orbit
  • Who is suffering/benefiting from dust

Category Language Difficulty Audio Duration Author
Atmosphere English Basic   45 min HansPeter Roesli


Physical Processes and Impact of Dust presentation (PDF, 16 MB)

Real-time RGB Products (EUMETSAT)

Forecasting Dust Storms CAL Module (COMET, requires registration)



J.M. Prospero, P. Ginoux, O. Torres, S.E. Nicholson, and T.E. Gill, 2002: Environmental characterization of global sources of atmospheric soil dust identified with the Nimbus 7 total ozone mapping spectrometer (TOMS) absorbing aerosol product, Rev. Geophys.,40(1), 1002, doi:10.1029/2000RG000095.

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