Dust production from desert sand dunes

This project is available from the academic year 2019/20 onwards.

Theme: Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor:

Charlie Bristow

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, BBK

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Secondary Supervisor:

Nick Drake

Department of Geography, KCL

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Additional Supervisor(s):

Project Description:

Atmospheric mineral dust is a major player in Earth System Science. It impacts on Earth’s climate through global shading, providing nuclei for cloud formation and providing a vector for the transfer of nutrients to the ocean and other continents.

Desert sand dunes are implicated in the production of dust from the Sahara (Crouvi et al. 2012), the world’s largest dust source. Samples of dune sands have been collected from across the Sahara Desert from Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Chad including the Bodélé Depression, the single biggest source of dust on Earth.

Experimental dust production from desert dune sands will be conducted using the method of Bullard et al. (2007). Remote sensing will be used to monitor Saharan dune fields and adjacent landforms (e.g. river and palaeolakes) to determine dust source frequency. The results will provide a test of the potential dust yield from desert sand dunes across the Sahara.

Policy Impact of Research:

Atmospheric mineral dust from the Sahara is a critical element in global biogeochemical cycles implicated in the supply of nutrients to the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon Basin. It is also a key component in cloud formation and climate models. The results will have a global impact.


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