Research Topic

Atmospheric Dust: How it affects climate, environment and life on Earth?

About this Research Topic

Mineral dust in the atmosphere predominantly affects Earth’s climate by scattering and absorbing shortwave and longwave radiation, which directly affects the surface temperature. More than that, it affects life on Earth, through its various direct and indirect interactions with the biotic and abiotic components of the Earth system. Dust affects the very basic process of rainfall through its direct and indirect effect thus regulates the hydrological cycle and the monsoon systems, which ultimately affects the distribution of water resources and agricultural production. Dust aerosols also fertilize aquatic and terrestrial plants as they supply essential nutrients such as Iron and Phosphorous through long-range transport. Severe dust storms can also reduce visibility, degrade air quality, and cause health and environmental problems. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the global dust cycle and its climatic and environmental impacts has significant scientific and practical implications.

Our current knowledge about dust aerosols is still limited. This is partially due to a lack of measurements particularly their mineral compositions, optical properties, and hygroscopic characteristics, and partially because we do not fully know the various direct and indirect pathways by which dust affects our climate and environment. Recent developments in global and regional climate modeling have enhanced our capability of solving complex processes of dust-climate-environment interactions. A growing number of satellite and ground-based observations have provided unprecedented opportunities to explore the various faucets of their interactions with the living and the non-living world. In this context, there is a need to examine the effects of dust in our environment and climate through a fresh new perspective, which will help to reduce the large uncertainties in global and regional climate models in regards to current and future climate simulations.

This Research Topic calls for papers that can significantly improve our understanding of the global dust cycle by employing remote sensing techniques, in situ observations, lab measurements, reanalysis data, and state-of-art numerical models. We especially welcome new ideas that help to fill the gap in our current understanding of dust-climate-environment interactions through the integrated use of both observations and numerical modeling. Through this research direction, we aim to;

• Constrain the uncertainties in modeling dust emissions, transport, and depositions, particularly those related to the optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
• Understand climatic, environmental, and health impacts of dust.
• Improve the representation of the global dust cycle in weather and climate models.
• Quantify the potential impacts of dust deposition on oceanic phytoplankton and land plants.
• Detect and attribute the long-term changes of dust events in the past.
• Project future changes in both natural and anthropogenic dust.

Specifically, this Research Topic seeks to address challenges faced by the dust research community, including but not limited to:

1) Identification of global dust source regions in a fine spatial resolution (e.g., <10km).
2) Observations and modeling of optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
3) Quantification of natural and anthropogenic dust aerosols.
4) Improvement of parameterizations of dust emissions, transport, and deposition.
5) Vertical profiles of atmospheric dust loading;
6) Process-level understanding of the mechanisms through which dust acts as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or ice nuclei (IN).
7) Meteorological conditions that favor the formation and transport of extreme dust events.
8) Modulation of the hydrological cycle by deposited dust in the cryosphere.
9) Environmental and health impacts of dust aerosols.
10) Dust fertilization of oceans and land plants.
11) Long-term variations of dust aerosols in the past, present, and future due to natural variability and anthropogenic activities.
12) Forecasting of severe dust storm events from synoptic to sub-seasonal to seasonal timescales.
13) Review manuscripts that highlight recent advances of dust research are also encouraged.


Keywords: Mineral dust, dust cycle, dust-climate coupling, dust-radiation interactions, dust-cloud-rainfall interactions, health impacts, dust effect on environment and life remote sensing of atmospheric aerosols, spatiotemporal variability of atmospheric dust


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Mineral dust in the atmosphere predominantly affects Earth’s climate by scattering and absorbing shortwave and longwave radiation, which directly affects the surface temperature. More than that, it affects life on Earth, through its various direct and indirect interactions with the biotic and abiotic components of the Earth system. Dust affects the very basic process of rainfall through its direct and indirect effect thus regulates the hydrological cycle and the monsoon systems, which ultimately affects the distribution of water resources and agricultural production. Dust aerosols also fertilize aquatic and terrestrial plants as they supply essential nutrients such as Iron and Phosphorous through long-range transport. Severe dust storms can also reduce visibility, degrade air quality, and cause health and environmental problems. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the global dust cycle and its climatic and environmental impacts has significant scientific and practical implications.

Our current knowledge about dust aerosols is still limited. This is partially due to a lack of measurements particularly their mineral compositions, optical properties, and hygroscopic characteristics, and partially because we do not fully know the various direct and indirect pathways by which dust affects our climate and environment. Recent developments in global and regional climate modeling have enhanced our capability of solving complex processes of dust-climate-environment interactions. A growing number of satellite and ground-based observations have provided unprecedented opportunities to explore the various faucets of their interactions with the living and the non-living world. In this context, there is a need to examine the effects of dust in our environment and climate through a fresh new perspective, which will help to reduce the large uncertainties in global and regional climate models in regards to current and future climate simulations.

This Research Topic calls for papers that can significantly improve our understanding of the global dust cycle by employing remote sensing techniques, in situ observations, lab measurements, reanalysis data, and state-of-art numerical models. We especially welcome new ideas that help to fill the gap in our current understanding of dust-climate-environment interactions through the integrated use of both observations and numerical modeling. Through this research direction, we aim to;

• Constrain the uncertainties in modeling dust emissions, transport, and depositions, particularly those related to the optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
• Understand climatic, environmental, and health impacts of dust.
• Improve the representation of the global dust cycle in weather and climate models.
• Quantify the potential impacts of dust deposition on oceanic phytoplankton and land plants.
• Detect and attribute the long-term changes of dust events in the past.
• Project future changes in both natural and anthropogenic dust.

Specifically, this Research Topic seeks to address challenges faced by the dust research community, including but not limited to:

1) Identification of global dust source regions in a fine spatial resolution (e.g., <10km).
2) Observations and modeling of optical properties and mineral compositions of dust.
3) Quantification of natural and anthropogenic dust aerosols.
4) Improvement of parameterizations of dust emissions, transport, and deposition.
5) Vertical profiles of atmospheric dust loading;
6) Process-level understanding of the mechanisms through which dust acts as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or ice nuclei (IN).
7) Meteorological conditions that favor the formation and transport of extreme dust events.
8) Modulation of the hydrological cycle by deposited dust in the cryosphere.
9) Environmental and health impacts of dust aerosols.
10) Dust fertilization of oceans and land plants.
11) Long-term variations of dust aerosols in the past, present, and future due to natural variability and anthropogenic activities.
12) Forecasting of severe dust storm events from synoptic to sub-seasonal to seasonal timescales.
13) Review manuscripts that highlight recent advances of dust research are also encouraged.


Keywords: Mineral dust, dust cycle, dust-climate coupling, dust-radiation interactions, dust-cloud-rainfall interactions, health impacts, dust effect on environment and life remote sensing of atmospheric aerosols, spatiotemporal variability of atmospheric dust


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 August 2021 Abstract
01 July 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 August 2021 Abstract
01 July 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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