A networking resource devoted to biological soil crusts and the researchers who study them. We will provide a means for international scientists to communicate, share their research, share important news and announcements, ask questions and find collaborators. We will also provide a space for informal writing on research, opinion, and ideas (now seeking posters!).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cool blog post about recent dust storms

Isn't this figure amazing! Check out the blog post by Munson et al. here. It's true, we are hearing alot more about dust storms recently. When I was growing up, I really only remember a few and they never lasted multiple days. The most memorable was when my mom was driving me to school during a dust storm, and one of those refrigerator boxes reinforced with wood was actually airborne and cracked our windshield. That was in the super-wet 1980's. Now its seems multiple dust storms occur ever year in western cities. Just ask anyone in Phoenix:

Arizona Republic headlines 2011:
Dust storm hits Phoenix, limits visibility – July 6

Arizona dust storm leaves big mess, health fears in its wake – July 7

3 Phoenix-area dust storms towered nearly 4000 feet high – July 19

Arizona dust storm: double dose of dust for Valley residents – July 23

Phoenix storms: rain, dust slam Pinal County – Aug 19

Crash amid dust storm at Picacho Peak – 25 Sept.

This is not comprehensive, just a sample. I actually heard about the first of these in the Australian news, then followed them in local papers. The funnest local article I found was a letter complaining to the newspaper for using the arabic word "haboob" rather than the phrase "Arizona dust storm". The guy didn't want us to give credit for our good ole Arizonan dust to the Arabs. You could also ask someone in Lubbock about dust storms. I read that their recent one was 8000 feet tall (~2700 meters!).

Heres the dust story in a nutshell: the reason there are more dust storm is that we are seeing more drought years. Drought shrinks the height and increases the spacing of plants, reducing their ability to buffer erosive forces. The soil crust is the major force reducing erodibility. If crusts are compromised at the same time the plants are drought stricken...and it usually is...the dust will blow (alot).

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