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Keywords:

  • aerosols;
  • anthropogenic;
  • dust sources;
  • remote sensing

[1] Our understanding of the global dust cycle is limited by a dearth of information about dust sources, especially small-scale features which could account for a large fraction of global emissions. Here we present a global-scale high-resolution (0.1°) mapping of sources based on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Deep Blue estimates of dust optical depth in conjunction with other data sets including land use. We ascribe dust sources to natural and anthropogenic (primarily agricultural) origins, calculate their respective contributions to emissions, and extensively compare these products against literature. Natural dust sources globally account for 75% of emissions; anthropogenic sources account for 25%. North Africa accounts for 55% of global dust emissions with only 8% being anthropogenic, mostly from the Sahel. Elsewhere, anthropogenic dust emissions can be much higher (75% in Australia). Hydrologic dust sources (e.g., ephemeral water bodies) account for 31% worldwide; 15% of them are natural while 85% are anthropogenic. Globally, 20% of emissions are from vegetated surfaces, primarily desert shrublands and agricultural lands. Since anthropogenic dust sources are associated with land use and ephemeral water bodies, both in turn linked to the hydrological cycle, their emissions are affected by climate variability. Such changes in dust emissions can impact climate, air quality, and human health. Improved dust emission estimates will require a better mapping of threshold wind velocities, vegetation dynamics, and surface conditions (soil moisture and land use) especially in the sensitive regions identified here, as well as improved ability to address small-scale convective processes producing dust via cold pool (haboob) events frequent in monsoon regimes.