Predicting the diverse radiative impact of mineral dust has several significant, related challenges. One is to quantify the complex spatial and temporal variations of dust burden. Another is to quantitatively relate the properties of dust and its radiative effects to dust life cycle in the atmosphere.
The basic physics behind the processes governing the production, transport, and evolution of mineral aerosols are understood. But the state-of-the-art climate and chemistry model predictions rely heavily on oversimplified parameterizations of some of these processes while ignoring others. As a result the magnitude and even the sign of dust net (solar plus IR) direct radiative forcing of climate remains unclear. Interdisciplinary research efforts to integrate modeling with the laboratory, in situ, and satellite measurements could provide a new perspective on improving quantification.