Drought and dust

According to NASA, portions of Interstate 35 in Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as Interstate 80 in Wyoming, had to be shut down due to accidents and poor visibility. Click on the photo for the full resolution image and text from the Earth Observatory.

“Parched by months of drought and searing heat, the Great Plains of the United States endured a widespread dust storm in mid-October 2012,” reports NASA’s Earth Observatory. “Severe winds blew soil and sediment across hundreds of miles, closing highways and reminding longtime residents of the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s and the severe dust storms of the 1950s.”

 

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The Big Dry: After drought, dust

Click on the image to be taken to the Earth Observatory.

A WALL of dust stretched from northern Queensland to the southern tip of eastern Australia on the morning of September 23, 2009, reports NASA’s Earth Observatory, while the Washington Post reports dust blanketing Sydney.

From NASA: Strong winds blew the dust from the interior to more populated regions along the coast. In this image, the dust rises in plumes from point sources and concentrates in a wall along the front of the storm. The large image shows that some of the point sources are agricultural fields, recognizable by their rectangular shape. Australia has suffered from a multiple-year drought, and much of the dust is coming from fields that have not been planted because of the drought, said Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. For a Reuters Q & A about the history of Australian dust storms, click here.

Dust Storms Cause Premature Snow Melt in Colorado

This May 24 report from the  Los Angeles Times is must read material for anyone looking at the relationship between the desiccation of the western deserts of California, Utah and Arizona by climate change and ground water pumping, the tearing up of fragile dry land by off road vehicles, and the effect of the subsequent dust storms on Rocky Mountain glaciers. These glaciers are crucial to the Western water supply.

From the story: 

  • Twelve dust storms barreled into the southern Rockies from the deserts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico so far this year. In contrast, four storms hit the mountains all year long in 2003. 
  • The storms leave a dark film on snow that melts it faster by hastening its absorption of the sun’s energy. That, coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures, has sped up the runoff here, swelling rivers to near flood stage, threatening to make reservoirs overflow and
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