Saharan Dust Blowing off Northwest Africa: This is an image of dust storms taken by NASAs SeaWiFS satellite, taken on Feb. 28, 2000. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA
A Microscopic Look at Dust: This particle of dust was magnified 12,000 times. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: USGS
People that live in Florida would expect the sands from the state beaches to blow into the air, and usually don’t think of the sands and dust from the Saharan Desert twirling around them. However, winds do carry the desert dust across the Atlantic Ocean, and scientists have been studying what they do to Florida Thunderstorms.
Scientists have discovered that these tiny particles of dust from the Saharan desert can affect thunderstorms in Florida in various ways. Dust affects the size of a thunderstorm’s "anvil" or top, the strength and number of warm updrafts (rising air), and the amount of rain that builds up and falls from the "heat generated" or convective thunderstorms.
Findings on the "Impact of Saharan Dust on Florida Storm Characteristics" were presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society on Jan. 11 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif. Susan C. van den Heever, Gustavo G. Carrio, William R. Cotton, Paul. J. DeMott and Anthony J. Prenni, all of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. co-authored a study which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.
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