Every year 2000 million tons of dust enters atmosphere impacts ecosystems, weather and climate: WMO


New Delhi: The global average of annual mean dust surface concentrations in 2022 was slightly higher than that in 2021 due to increased emissions from west-central Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian Plateau and north-western China said WMO in its annual report.

According to the “Airborne Dust Bulletin” 2022 the WMO said spatially, the estimated peak annual mean dust surface concentration was in the Bodéle (Chad, in Africa).

“In 2022, hotspots with significantly higher dust concentrations were identified in Central and South America, most of Central Africa, Spain, the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Sea, the Iranian Plateau, the Bay of Bengal, South Asia, the Tarim Basin in north-west China and the tropical Atlantic Ocean between West Africa and the Caribbean” said IMD.

Every year, around 2,000 million tons of dust enters the atmosphere, “darkening skies and harming air quality” affecting economies, ecosystems, weather and climate.

“Much of this is a natural process, but a large part of it is the result of poor water and land management” said the report.

WMO issued its annual report on the incidence and hazards of sand and dust storms, as well as their impacts on society. It also takes a look at how climate change may potentially increase sand and dust storm hotspots.

The WMO Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS), set up in 2007, strives to improve warnings through dedicated regional centres.

“WMO is committed to tackling this major hazard. Sand and dust storms have impacts on health, on transport including aviation, ground transportation, road and railroad transportation and agriculture. This affects public health and safety and economies,” says WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“The Early Warnings for All initiative contains an ambition to improve standard dust storm forecasting skills and warning services. We very promoting multi-hazard early warning service concepts to bring all hazards under one umbrella. And we also promoting impact-based forecasting which lies at the heart of improved warnings for sand and dust storms,” he said.

Over the last decades, the Middle East region, where the Asian, African and European continents connect, has been suffering from “alarming” desertification processes and dust events, said the Bulletin. Intensive water withdrawals and increasing pressure on hydrological resources compound the challenges of an arid climate.

WMO also raised alarm over the loss of soil nutrients and reduced performance of solar plants due to dust storms.

“The loss of soil nutrients costs agriculture more than US$ 8 billion dollars every year in the Pan-American region” it said.

Exposure to dust particles has been associated with adverse health effects, including heart attacks, cardiovascular mortality, lung cancer and Valley fever in USA.

The Airborne Dust Bulletin highlighted the need for further research into future interactions between sand and dust storms and climate change as well as accompanying changes in the global atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns.


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