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Five Decades of Dust Storms in China
Reference
Liu, C.-M., Qian, Z.-A., Wu, M.-C., Song, M.-H. And Liu, J.-T.  2004.  A composite study of the synoptic differences between major and minor dust storm springs over the China-Mongolia areas.  Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 15: 999-1018.

What was done
The authors analyzed trends in spring dust storm frequency for the region of western and southwestern China-Mongolia for the period 1952-2003, linking the trends to changes in synoptic-scale circulation.

What was learned
Interannual and interdecadal trends in dust storm occurrences were noted throughout the 52-year record.  By decade, the number of spring dust storms varied from 21 in the 1950s, to 44 in the 1960s, a high of 60 in the 1970s, 35 in the 1980s and 25 in the 1990s.  Synoptic circulation conditions were shown to influence the number of dust storms such that the presence of a strong Siberian cold air mass enhances their number, while a warmer, weaker Siberian air mass brings about a decline.  As noted in the decadal change in the number of spring dust storms listed above, the synoptic scale features influencing dust storm formation tend to persist for more than a decade.  Although desertification may play some role in fostering dust storm development, the authors note it is not a crucial factor.  Synoptic circulation, they say, "is far more important."

What it means
What can we expect with respect to the number of dust storm events in the decades to come?  Based upon computer model projections, climate alarmists are quick to claim that global warming will lead to the intensification of extreme weather events.  However, as the data clearly show in the case of China-Mongolia spring dust storms, such predictions are wrong.  In the words of the authors, if global warming increased temperatures in the northern part of China and Mongolia as predicted by the models, "the China-Mongolia ridge will continue to rise and suppress Mongolian cyclones and dust storm activities in Western China-Mongolia."

Reviewed 21 September 2005