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Projection of American dustiness in the late 21st century due to climate change

Pu, B., and P. Ginoux (2017), Projection of American dustiness in the late 21st century due to climate change, Nature-Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05431-9.

Climate models project rising drought risks over the southwestern and central U.S. in the twenty-first century due to increasing greenhouse gases. The projected drier regions largely overlay the major dust sources in the United States. However, whether dust activity in U.S. will increase in the future is not clear, due to the large uncertainty in dust modeling. This study found that changes of dust activity in the U.S. in the recent decade are largely associated with the variations of precipitation, soil bareness, and surface winds speed. Using multi-model output under the Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 scenario, we project that climate change will increase dust activity in the southern Great Plains from spring to fall in the late half of the twenty-first century – largely due to reduced precipitation, enhanced land surface bareness, and increased surface wind speed. Over the northern Great Plains, less dusty days are expected in spring due to increased precipitation and reduced bareness. Given the large negative economic and societal consequences of severe dust storms, this study complements the multi-model projection on future dust variations and may help improve risk management and resource planning.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)