Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Different Kind of Bathtub Ring

The earth's atmosphere is often explained as a shallow pan of fluid atop the surface of the solid earth. It is a very large bathtub. So why should we be surprised to see a global-scale bathtub ring from space?

Read Dust Storms Overseas Carry Contaminants to U.S. There are huge clouds of dust traveling the rivers overhead. The dust carries heavy metals, toxins, insects, bacteria and viruses. Who needs jet travel to spread SARS when you have the jet stream?

I had thought it was a pacific northwest problem, but I learned that "authorities in Los Angeles estimate that on some days, one-quarter of the city's smog comes from China."

I downloaded the hemispherical view of the jet stream analysis from the California Regional Weather Service.

Check out NASA's MODIS picture of the day archive. A remarkable number of them are of severe dust events.

Look at my photos of the Fox Glacier. The guides told us that the reddish dust were deposited from the Australian outback during severe dust events.

3 comments:

  1. It's good to know that someone else is speculating about virus transport by dust.

    I've speculated from time to time that the high incidence of winter colds could be due to seasonal variations in upper atmosphere winds. Rain might be a contributor too, since raindrops tend to require a nucleation site, such as a virus-laden dust particle.

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  2. Or it could be that we eat more fresh fruit and vegetables in summer.

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  3. I never realized how much dust there was until I worked on a (satellite) Cal/Val. When verifying the temperature soundings, we must first mask out the cloudy pixels. But how do you tell a water cloud from a dust cloud? Wow, are there really so many dusty pixels? And so on. Eye opening.

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