Quantifying mineral dust mass budgets:Terminology, constraints, and current estimates



Mineral dust aerosol is created by wind erosion of soil particles. In addition to its direct radiative effect, dust aerosol mediates ocean carbon uptake and the chemical cycles of other aerosols like sulfates. Dust observations during the past decade span measurements of local concentration and deposition to global satellite retrievals of aerosol optical thickness [Prospero et al., 2002].

Measurements of dust emission, whereby soil particles enter the atmosphere, are scarce. Because no single data set is sufficient to constrain the three-dimensional distribution of dust aerosol and its evolution with time, the dust cycle is currently estimated using models that are constrained by available measurements and retrievals.