Spatial and temporal characteristics of dust storms in China and its surrounding regions, 1960–1999: Relations to source area and climate


  • Jimin Sun,

  • Mingying Zhang,

  • Tungsheng Liu


Compilation and analysis of the past 40 years of dust storm reports from China allow estimation of the meteorological conditions of dust storms, dust transport routes, and eolian source regions. Our results indicate that dust storms in China are highly associated with the frontal systems and the Mongolian cyclonic depression. The spatial distribution of dust storms indicates that there are two dominant source regions of eolian dust raised from China and its surrounding regions. The major source is the gobi deserts in Mongolia and northern China. Another source region is the Taklimakan Desert in western China. However, dust entrained from the two sources makes different contributions to downwind deposition regions. In most cases, dust materials entrained from the gobi deserts of Mongolia and China can only be entrained to an elevation of <3000 m. They are the dominant source materials of the eolian sediments in the Loess Plateau, southeastern China, offshore regions, and the near North Pacific Ocean. Dust materials from the Taklimakan Desert can be entrained to an elevation of >5000 m and then transported over long distances (∼5000 km) by the westerlies. These materials are not the main sources of the dust deposited in the proximal region, such as the Chinese Loess Plateau, but they are important sources of the eolian fraction of pelagic sediment in the remote North Pacific Ocean.