What is it about?

Dust activities are closely related to local meteorological conditions, which can be largely affected by the variability in remote oceans. Considering the prevalence of dust storms in the Gobi Desert and North China area in local spring each year, we investigate the impact of relative changes in the tropical Pacific, North Atlantic sea surface temperature, and Arctic sea ice concentration on boreal spring dust activities in these two regions. Our results show that when SST (sea ice area fraction for the Arctic) fluctuates by 1%, the change in the tropical Pacific leads to the most dust activity frequency changes in the Gobi Desert, whereas in the dust transport area of North China, the change in the North Atlantic plays a more critical role. Considering the observed SST variability, the tropical Pacific is more important in affecting dust activities in both regions. The finding can be helpful in the modeling and prediction of dust activities over northeastern Asia

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Why is it important?

Extreme events such as the "North China Super Sandstorms" in March 2021s have significant impacts on human life, socio-economics and agricultural production (Figure 1). In addition to local meteorological conditions, sea surface temperature (SST) variability in different ocean basins also contributes to duststorm frequency through atmospheric teleconnection and wave trains. Therefore, it is of great significance to study the impact of SST variability in these ocean basins on dust activities in North China.


Compared with previous studies, this work provides a quantitative evaluation of how variability from major ocean basins contributes to dust activities in North China on the decadal scale. The super duststorm in the spring of 2021 has been attributed to the warmer northwest Atlantic, the La Niña event, and the significant ice shift in Barents and Kera sea in 2020/2021 (Yin et al., 2021), and our study indicates that the La Niña event is likely the dominant factor in this process. In the future, we plan to investigate the role of other ocean basins, such as the North Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and even Antarctic sea ice. We also plan to relate ocean variability with dust activity on seasonal and interannual scales.

Guanyu Liu
Peking University

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This page is a summary of: Impact of sea surface temperature variability at different ocean basins on dust activities in the Gobi Desert and North China, Geophysical Research Letters, July 2022, American Geophysical Union (AGU),
DOI: 10.1029/2022gl099821.
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