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Leipzig. Fallow agricultural land and steppe-formation processes are evidently capable of having a much greater effect on global air quality than was previously assumed. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers after examining a dust cloud that formed over parched fields in southern Ukraine and led to extremely high concentrations of particulate matter in Central Europe. On 24 March 2007 the dust cloud spread across Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic to Germany. Peak concentrations of between 200 and 1400 micrograms of PM10 particulates per cubic metre were measured. By way of comparison: the EU daily average limit is 50 micrograms per cubic metre. Even if such meteorological conditions would appear to occur relatively infrequently, the unexpected scale of the phenomenon showed a need for a better understanding of the processes that lead to the formation and transport of such large quantities of dust. Writing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (IfT), Freie Universitt Berlin, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and Saxonys regional office of the environment and geology (LfUG) explain that this is particularly relevant in the context of human-induced desertification and climate change. Previously, the Sahara had been seen as the main source of dust carried over long distances to Central Europe. The paper published by the research team from Leipzig, Berlin and Dresden is the first documentation of dust transport from the Ukraine.
Blown by the wind
It was a warm, sunny day in spring and a strong wind was blowing over the parched fields near the Kachowkaer dam on the lower reaches of the Dnjepr river. There had been no rain for weeks. The black soil here in the south of the Ukraine is one o
|Contact: Tilo Arnhold|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres