Orbital Observations of Dust Lofted by Daytime Convective Turbulence

Fenton, Lori; Reiss, Dennis; Lemmon, Mark; Marticorena, Béatrice; Lewis, Stephen and Cantor, Bruce (2016). Orbital Observations of Dust Lofted by Daytime Convective Turbulence. Space Science Reviews, 203(1) pp. 89–142.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-016-0243-6


Over the past several decades, orbital observations of lofted dust have revealed the importance of mineral aerosols as a climate forcing mechanism on both Earth and Mars. Increasingly detailed and diverse data sets have provided an ever-improving understanding of dust sources, transport pathways, and sinks on both planets, but the role of dust in modulating atmospheric processes is complex and not always well understood. We present a review of orbital observations of entrained dust on Earth and Mars, particularly that produced by the dust-laden structures produced by daytime convective turbulence called “dust devils”. On Earth, dust devils are thought to contribute only a small fraction of the atmospheric dust budget; accordingly, there are not yet any published accounts of their occurrence from orbit. In contrast, dust devils on Mars are thought to account for several tens of percent of the planet’s atmospheric dust budget; the literature regarding martian dust devils is quite rich. Because terrestrial dust devils may temporarily contribute significantly to local dust loading and lowered air quality, we suggest that martian dust devil studies may inform future studies of convectively-lofted dust on Earth.

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