The Southern Kalahari: a potential new dust source in the Southern Hemisphere?


Journal Article

Most sources of atmospheric dust on Earth are located in the Northern Hemisphere. The lower dust emissions in the Southern Hemisphere in part limit the supply of micronutrients (primarily soluble iron) to the Southern Ocean, thereby constraining its productivity. Climate and land use change can alter the current distribution of dust source regions on Earth. Can new dust sources be activated in the Southern Hemisphere? Here we show that vegetation loss and dune remobilization in the Southern Kalahari can promote dust emissions comparable to those observed from major contemporary dust sources in the Southern African region. Dust generation experiments support the hypothesis that, in the Southern Kalahari, aeolian deposits that are currently mostly stabilized by savanna vegetation are capable of emitting substantial amounts of dust from interdune areas. We show that dust from these areas is relatively rich in soluble iron, an important micronutrient for ocean productivity. Trajectory analyses show that dust from the Kalahari commonly reaches the Southern Ocean and could therefore enhance its productivity.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bhattachan, A; D'Odorico, P; Baddock, MC; Zobeck, TM; Okin, GS; Cassar, N

Published Date

  • April 10, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 2

Published By

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1748-9326

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024001