EMIT instrument will help researchers model climate effects of dust

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Saharan dust storm [image credit: BBC]

As a recent paper noted: ‚a comprehensive understanding of the global dust cycle and its climatic and environmental impacts has significant scientific and practical implications. Our current knowledge about dust aerosols is still limited.‘
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A new instrument headed to the International Space Station (ISS) will help researchers learn how dust storms heat or cool the planet, says Phys.org.

NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission, which launched today, will greatly broaden scientists‘ view of areas affected by mineral dust.

„Currently, the dust impacts of climate change are based on about 5,000 samples of soil for the entire Earth. EMIT will collect more than 1 billion usable measurements for the arid regions of the world,“ said Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Roger Clark, a Co-Investigator on the EMIT mission.

„The mineralogy will be sampled every 60- by 60-meter area in arid regions of the Earth, not just a small lab sample, and will measure more than a billion locations, giving us a far better picture of the minerals in dust-generating regions.“

Blown by wind across continents and oceans, dust does more than make skies hazy, congest lungs, and leave a film on windshields. Also known as mineral dust or desert dust, it can influence weather, hasten snowmelt, and fertilize plants on land and in the ocean.

Particles from North Africa can travel thousands of miles around the globe, sparking phytoplankton blooms, seeding Amazonian rainforests with nutrients, and blanketing some American cities in a veil of grit also absorbing and scattering sunlight.

„Understanding the dust composition is key to understanding the warming versus cooling and by how much, both on regional and global scales. Depending on the composition of the dust, it can cool or warm the planet. Dark dust, including dust with iron oxides may cause warming, whereas light dust may result in cooling. Dust also plays a role in ecosystem and human health,“ Clark said.

„Dust can deliver nutrients to ecosystems thousands of miles away. Dust can also cause respiratory problems in humans as well as animals.“
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Data from the EMIT instrument will be downlinked to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where it will be calibrated and fed to Tetracorder. The minerals detected by Tetracorder that are important for dust modeling will then be fed to climate models so scientists can understand their role in warming or cooling the planet.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

 July 16, 2022, by oldbrew