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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 23 Jul 2018

Research article | 23 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Fine dust emissions from active sands at coastal Oceano Dunes, California

Yue Huang1, Jasper F. Kok1, Raleigh L. Martin1, Nitzan Swet2, Itzhak Katra2, Thomas E. Gill3, Richard L. Reynolds4, and Livia S. Freire5 Yue Huang et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
  • 2Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva 84105, Israel
  • 3Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
  • 5Department of Environmental Engineering, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, PR 80060, Brazil

Abstract. Sand dunes and other active sands generally have a low content of fine grains and, therefore, are not considered to be major dust sources in climate models. However, recent remote sensing studies have indicated that a surprisingly large fraction of dust storms are generated from regions covered by sand dunes, leading these studies to propose that sand dunes might be globally-relevant sources of dust. To help understand the dust emission potential of sand dunes and other active sands, we present in situ field measurements of dust emission under natural saltation from a coastal sand sheet at Oceano Dunes in California. We find that saltation drives substantial dust emissions from this setting. Laboratory analyses of sand samples suggest that these emissions are produced by aeolian abrasion of feldspars and removal of coatings of clay minerals on sand grains. We further find that this emitted dust is substantially finer than dust emitted from non-sandy soils and dust observed in situ over North Africa. As such, dust emitted from the sand sheet, and potentially from other active sands affected by similar dust emission processes, could have potent impacts on climate, the hydrological cycle, and human health. These measurements thus support the hypothesis that considerable emissions of fine dust can be generated by the reactivation of inactive dunes with accumulated clay minerals. This might occur due to future land-use changes and desertification, and is not currently represented in most climate models.

Yue Huang et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Yue Huang et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Our paper provides important insights into dust emission from sand dunes, which cover a large fraction of arid lands, produces the first in situ measurements for size-resolved dust emission from active sands that could improve the representation of dust cycle in climate models and remote sensing techniques, and shows that dust from active sands is likely significantly finer than thought, implying a greater effect of dust emission from active sands on downwind climate, hydrology and human health.
Our paper provides important insights into dust emission from sand dunes, which cover a large...