EMIT instrument will help researchers model climate effects of dust

Posted: July 16, 2022 by oldbrew in climate, dust, modelling, Temperature, Uncertainty, weather, wind

Saharan dust storm [image credit: BBC]

As a recent paper noted: ‘a comprehensive understanding of the global dust cycle and its climatic and environmental impacts has significant scientific and practical implications. Our current knowledge about dust aerosols is still limited.’
– – –
A new instrument headed to the International Space Station (ISS) will help researchers learn how dust storms heat or cool the planet, says Phys.org.

NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission, which launched today, will greatly broaden scientists’ view of areas affected by mineral dust.

“Currently, the dust impacts of climate change are based on about 5,000 samples of soil for the entire Earth. EMIT will collect more than 1 billion usable measurements for the arid regions of the world,” said Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Roger Clark, a Co-Investigator on the EMIT mission.

“The mineralogy will be sampled every 60- by 60-meter area in arid regions of the Earth, not just a small lab sample, and will measure more than a billion locations, giving us a far better picture of the minerals in dust-generating regions.”

Blown by wind across continents and oceans, dust does more than make skies hazy, congest lungs, and leave a film on windshields. Also known as mineral dust or desert dust, it can influence weather, hasten snowmelt, and fertilize plants on land and in the ocean.

Particles from North Africa can travel thousands of miles around the globe, sparking phytoplankton blooms, seeding Amazonian rainforests with nutrients, and blanketing some American cities in a veil of grit also absorbing and scattering sunlight.

“Understanding the dust composition is key to understanding the warming versus cooling and by how much, both on regional and global scales. Depending on the composition of the dust, it can cool or warm the planet. Dark dust, including dust with iron oxides may cause warming, whereas light dust may result in cooling. Dust also plays a role in ecosystem and human health,” Clark said.

“Dust can deliver nutrients to ecosystems thousands of miles away. Dust can also cause respiratory problems in humans as well as animals.”
. . .
Data from the EMIT instrument will be downlinked to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where it will be calibrated and fed to Tetracorder. The minerals detected by Tetracorder that are important for dust modeling will then be fed to climate models so scientists can understand their role in warming or cooling the planet.

Full article here.

  1. […] EMIT instrument will help researchers model climate effects of dust […]

  2. catweazle666 says:

    Don’t you just love this “settled science”…

  3. P.A.Semi says:

    African air with sand dust, if it makes into Europe, makes huge heat-waves here…

    Which happens, when there is pressure low west of Spain, which pumps African air into Europe, whereas normally there is usually Atlantic pressure high that pumps African air away from Europe…

    And this African air warms hugely on following days, even if it cools over nights… Because of the dust…
    And this rather rare west-of-Spain pressure lows warming Europe have been happening more often in recent years than in the past…


  4. oldbrew says:

    Frontiers in Environmental Science
    Atmosphere and Climate
    Research Topics
    Atmospheric Dust: How it affects climate, environment and life on Earth?

    This Research Topic calls for papers that can significantly improve our understanding of the global dust cycle by employing remote sensing techniques, in situ observations, lab measurements, reanalysis data, and state-of-art numerical models. We especially welcome new ideas that help to fill the gap in our current understanding of dust-climate-environment interactions through the integrated use of both observations and numerical modeling. Through this research direction, we aim to:

    • Constrain the uncertainties in modeling dust emissions, transport, and depositions, particularly those related to the optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
    • Understand climatic, environmental, and health impacts of dust.
    • Improve the representation of the global dust cycle in weather and climate models.
    • Quantify the potential impacts of dust deposition on oceanic phytoplankton and land plants.
    • Detect and attribute the long-term changes of dust events in the past.
    • Project future changes in both natural and anthropogenic dust.

    Specifically, this Research Topic seeks to address challenges faced by the dust research community, including but not limited to:

    1) Identification of global dust source regions in a fine spatial resolution (e.g., <10km).
    2) Observations and modeling of optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
    3) Quantification of natural and anthropogenic dust aerosols.
    4) Improvement of parameterizations of dust emissions, transport, and deposition.
    5) Vertical profiles of atmospheric dust loading;
    6) Process-level understanding of the mechanisms through which dust acts as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or ice nuclei (IN).
    7) Meteorological conditions that favor the formation and transport of extreme dust events.
    8) Modulation of the hydrological cycle by deposited dust in the cryosphere.
    9) Environmental and health impacts of dust aerosols.
    10) Dust fertilization of oceans and land plants.
    11) Long-term variations of dust aerosols in the past, present, and future due to natural variability and anthropogenic activities.
    12) Forecasting of severe dust storm events from synoptic to sub-seasonal to seasonal timescales.
    13) Review manuscripts that highlight recent advances of dust research are also encouraged.


    Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 01 August 2022
    – – –
    A long enough list of ‘challenges’.

  5. oldbrew says:

    “The gradual change in contrast of the solar disc is caused by the sun getting lower and crossing the Sahara dust layer.”


    The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is an extremely hot, dry and sometimes dust-laden layer of the atmosphere that often overlies the cooler, more-humid surface air of the Atlantic Ocean.

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