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AGU journal highlights -- Sept. 3, 2008
Date:9/3/2008

1. Tracking the dust belt

Dust is one of several types of aerosols in the atmosphere that affects climate in still poorly understood ways. Dust scatters and absorbs solar radiation, cooling the atmosphere, but it can also interact with cloud formation and other climate-affecting processes. Launch of the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite in 2006 was aimed at improving understanding of how clouds and aerosols interact. Liu et al. present data from first-year CALIPSO lidar measurements to generate the first snapshot of the global distribution of dust. On the basis of dust's optical properties, they were able to separate data on dust from those of clouds and other aerosols, such as soot. They find that dust is mainly a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon, arising largely from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They also determined that spring is the dustiest season, when some areas are influenced by dust up to 50 percent of the time, and that dust can reach as high as 6 kilometers (4 miles). The authors expect that understanding where and when dust arises and how it moves can help improve model simulations of cloud-aerosol interactions and their effect on climate.

Title: A Height Resolved Global View of Dust Aerosols from the First Year CALIPSO Lidar Measurements

Authors: Dong Liu: Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, U.S.A.; also at Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, China;

Zhien Wang: Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, U.S.A.;

Zhaoyan Liu: National Institute of Aerospace, Hampton, Virginia, U.S.A;

Dave Winker and Charles Trepte: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, U.S.A.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres (JGR-D) paper 10.1029/2007JD009776, 2008;

Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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