An enormous dust cyclone swirls over northeastern China
It was a natural phenomenon that would have tested the limits of even Mr Muscle. Scientists in Japan have found that clouds generated by a massive dust storm in China’s Taklimakan desert in 2007 completed more than one full circle around the planet in just 13 days.
And measuring around 1.9 miles vertically and up to 1,242 miles horizontally, the dust cloud – which formed in the northwestern region of Xinjiang – stayed in that formation the whole way.
When it reached the Pacific Ocean the second time around, it descended and deposited some of its dust into the sea.
‘Asian dust is usually deposited near the Yellow Sea, around the Japan area, while Sahara dust ends up around the Atlantic Ocean and coast of Africa,’ said Itsushi Uno of Kyushu University’s Research Institute for Applied Mechanics.
‘But this study shows that China dust can be deposited into the (Pacific Ocean). Dust clouds contain 5 per cent iron, that is important for the ocean.’
In a report published in Nature Geoscience, scientists described how they used a NASA satellite and mathematical modelling to track and measure the movement of the dust cloud, which formed after the storm between May 8 and 9 in 2007.
The researchers found that the dust clouds were lifted 5-6 miles above the earth’s surface before racing around the earth.
‘The most important achievement is that we tracked this through one full circuit round the globe – nobody has done this before,’ said Mr Uno.
Asian dust usually deposits near Japan but this cloud dropped the dust on its second tour of the Pacific
‘After half a circuit, usually the dust concentration gets very low and you can’t track it.
‘This means that dust concentration, dust lifetime is very long, more than two weeks.
‘The reason why the cloud structure was very well maintained was because the dust was uplifted – where the atmosphere is very stable.’
Researchers believe dust particles trigger the formation of high-altitude cirrus clouds, although experts have no idea whether such clouds warm or cool the earth.
Via Daily Mail