NASA: How dust affects the climate -Uploaded a satellite photo of Cyprus


EMIT is the first instrument to use a new spectrometry technology invented by NASA to comprehensively measure the composition of Earth’s dust.

A new mission of hers NASA will help scientists better understand how the airborne dustwhich has a weight equal to 10,000 aircraft carriers, affects the climate and in what way, i.e. if it heats or cools it.

In a statement, NASA displays a satellite photo taken in June 2020 showing our geographic area with Cyprus in the center.

The photo caption reads “A cloud of dust is spreading across the eastern Mediterranean, covering parts of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. NASA’s EMIT mission will help scientists better understand how airborne dust affects the climate.”

The EMIT observatory has already begun its first measurements after launching to the International Space Station in July.

EMIT is the first instrument to use a new spectrometry technology invented by NASA to comprehensively measure the composition of Earth’s dust.

It is designed to analyze airborne dust to study if and how it affects the climate.

Dust weighing 10,000 aircraft carriers

As NASA notes, each year, strong winds carry more than a billion metric tons — or the weight of 10,000 aircraft carriers — of mineral dust from Earth’s deserts and other dry regions through the atmosphere.

While scientists know dust affects the environment and climate, they don’t have enough data to determine, in detail, what those effects are or might be in the future—at least not yet.

NASA’s instrument will help fill these gaps and, among other things, determine the composition of mineral dust from Earth’s arid regions, help scientists understand how dust affects various processes on the planet, while its data will improve the accuracy of climate models and will help scientists predict how future climate scenarios will affect the type and amount of dust in our atmosphere.

Does dust warm or cool our planet?

At this time, scientists do not know whether mineral dust has a cumulative warming or cooling effect on the planet. This is because dust particles in the atmosphere have different properties.

For example, some particles may be dark red, while others may be white. Color, he says, matters because it determines whether the dust will absorb the Sun’s energy, like dark-colored minerals, or reflect it, like light-colored minerals. If more dust absorbs the Sun’s energy than reflects it, it will warm the planet and vice versa.

EMIT will provide a detailed picture of how much dust comes from dark and how much from open-field minerals.

This information will allow scientists to determine whether the dust is warming or cooling the planet as a whole, as well as regionally and locally.

Mineral dust particles vary in color because they are composed of different substances. Dark red mineral dust gets its color from, for example, iron. The composition of dust particles affects how they interact with many of Earth’s natural processes.

For example, mineral dust plays a role in cloud formation and atmospheric chemistry. When mineral dust is deposited in oceans or forests, it can provide nutrients for growth, acting as fertilizer. When it falls on snow or ice, the dust accelerates melting, leading to more water runoff. As far as humans are concerned, the dust can be hazardous to health when inhaled.

What is certain is that with the expected measurements, answers will be given to many questions and new horizons will be opened in the understanding of the role played by dust on our planet.


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