Saharan Dust Cloud on the Move Over Atlantic

There is a Saharan dust cloud on the move over Atlantic these days and this will significantly affect the air quality in the south of the US and in Central America.

The dust is carried by the trade winds, and this is a belt of east-to-west moving winds near the equator. This is a huge cloud that can extend from a few thousand feet above the surface to up to 20000 feet. It normally spreads more and more as it travels across the Atlantic, but the video below shows that this particular cloud remains quite localized and dense. See how it looks:

This site is about home air quality so it is interesting to check about the sizes of the particles in the cloud. From some previous observations and studies, it is clear that around 34% of the mass during Saharan dust events is the range of 1–2.5 μm. So this is about micron sizes, and just to know that a micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter. Please see more in this scientific paper.

Studies also show that the concentration of particles below 300 nm (i.e., below 0.3 microns) in the air are nearly unaffected by such Saharan outbreaks. The same holds also for the contribution of particles larger than 10 μm. In our separate text about the HEPA filter’s efficiency, you can read what kind of particles they can stop. So from the numbers mentioned above it is clear that your HEPA filter at home will remove this Saharan dust from the air.

But did you know that there is a really good side of such events? This Saharan dust is rich in phosphorus and other minerals. When it comes to the Amazon Amazon region it is washed down to the ground and it provides essential nutrients to the plants. Around 182 million tons of the Saharan dust goes across the Atlantic each year, and 15% of it ends up in the Amazon.

Please see a bit more about this here:

But there is more to the story, the Amazon river water brings lots of these minerals to the Atlantic and this positively affects Phytoplankton which is essential for the generation of oxygen in the atmosphere. I warmly suggest that you see much more about this effect in this great video:

Half of the oxygen in the air comes from the plankton in the seas, and this is greatly affected by these Saharan storms. The picture below shows how the plankton blooms close to the area where the Amazon river delivers its waters with nutritions to the seawater, these are the greener areas in the sea.

Plankton blooms after Saharan desert minerals arriving from the Amazon river to the ocean.
Plankton blooms after Saharan desert minerals arriving from the Amazon river to the ocean.

So there is no doubt it may be unpleasant when this Saharan dust comes to you, and this is the time when your home air purifiers will be more needed than ever. But as you realize from the videos above, this brings lots of benefits to all of us and to the planet in general.

Thank you for reading. Please use the comment box below in the case of questions or comments. Have a nice day.

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