Lake Hamun is a major source of dust storms •

Lake Hamun is a major source of dust storms

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Lake Hamun, a seasonal lake in the Sistan region on the Afghanistan-Iran border. The lake and surrounding wetlands have been shrinking as a result of persistent drought, leading to reduced vegetation and exposed dust. These changes have transformed the basin into a major source of dust storms.

“While dust storms are most common in the summer, they happen year-round as long as the lake is dry and the winds are strong. That was the case on January 12, 2023, when the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite captured this image of dust streaming from the dry lake bed,” says NASA.

In January 2023, a team of experts led by UCLA reported that airborne dust has likely increased by 55 percent on a global scale since pre-industrial times. The researchers said this is largely due to more frequent dust storms in Asia and North Africa. 

The team estimates that the cooling effect of airborne dust has likely masked about eight percent of the warming caused by greenhouse gases since the preindustrial era.

“Our findings imply that greenhouses gases alone could cause even more climate warming than models currently predict,” said UCLA atmospheric physicist Jasper Kok. “This is of tremendous importance because better predictions can inform better decisions of how to mitigate or adapt to climate change.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Editor

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