One of the first global-scale simulations of dust and climate from preindustrial times to the year 2100 projects a worldwide decrease in airborne dust of 20–63% by the end of this century. The computer model studies show less wind, more moisture, and enhanced vegetation in desert areas as carbon dioxide increases over the next century, keeping more of the worlds dust on the ground. Coauthor Natalie Mahowald of the National Center for Atmospheric Research presented the results this week at the American Geophysical Unions annual meeting in San Francisco.
"Reductions in global dust levels could have a profound impact on future climate predictions," says Mahowald. Dust helps to lower global temperature by reflecting sunlight, as well as by depositing iron in the ocean and thus fertilizing marine organisms that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Mahowald and Chao Luo (University of California, Santa Barbara) combined NCARs global Climate System Model with other software specifically tailored to simulate dust under a variety of climate regimes. The climate changes are driven primarily by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from 280 parts per million in 1890 (preindustrial) to 500 ppm by 2090--a scenario considered reasonable by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Anatta | EurekAlert!
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