Dust storms

By: Parrys Raines, Category: Science, Date: 24 Sep 2009

Will dust storms happen more often? What are the impacts?

As I woke up on Wednesday morning to see something I hadn’t seen before made me think what other awful environmental firsts will I see in my life time?

I thought about what impact this event will have and thought about a vital lesson I learnt when I was ten years old. I was in the South Island of New Zealand on a glacier. I had done quite a bit of rock climbing and wanted to try ice climbing. I travelled to Fox Glacier where I did an Introduction to Ice Climbing Course.

It was during the course I learnt from nature about impacts on the environment. After a few hours of climbing I was on an ice cliff that had a red line through it. I wondered how there could be a red line in white ice. When I finished the climb I told my guide what I seen and he then told me what it was. I couldn’t believe it. He told me it was dust from central Australia and the wind had blown it all the way across the Pacific Ocean and landed on Fox Glacier.

The dust is actually top soil. In a drought the ground is very dry so when it is windy the top soil is blown away. This top soil is needed by farmers to grow crops and the food we all need. It then takes a long time for the farmers to get the soil back to a stage where food can be grown again.

If a drought lasts for years and years it is going to take a long time for famers to grow crops again. The impact for the farmers is that they do not make money for their families and the impact on the rest of the country is higher food prices because there are a reduced number of crops grown. Australia then imports food from around the world which means another impact on the environment as food transportation puts carbon into the air.

Wednesday’s event would have impacted on health, lifestyle, transport, sport and water. Climate change will bring more impacts such as: more droughts, more bush fires, less snow on our mountains, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, more severe floods, changes in rainfall and weather pattern.

Everything we do has an impact on the environment. What we do in our own houses and backyards has an impact on our community, our community has an impact on our country, our country has an impact on other countries and all countries have an impact on our planet. If we are more careful about things we do, the impact can be reduced or else we face more awful impacts like the dust storm.

‘Habits made today will help life tomorrow’.



Parrys Raines - 2.09 PM, 27 September 2009
Hi Lynda, I had a look at the link and the findings are very interesting. What we need is people from different parts of central Australia to send in samples of their local soil to see if we can determine the origin of the dust. Once we know the origin we can then ask questions about why this soil was able to be blown away. The answer might be as simple as the dust came from the worse drought affected areas. If that is the case then as we experience more droughts because of climate change we can expect more dust. If there are more droughts in different parts of Australia it would be then interesting to see the different types of dust and determine if different soil types are less likely to be blown away.
Lynda Kelly - 11.09 AM, 25 September 2009
Thanks for this posting Parrys. I have added a link from your post to the Science Bytes blog where our Mineralogist, Ross Pogson, has reported his analysis of the dust. There's also a foto of our Musuem display case and some crazy fotos I pulled off the web. The storm certainly is a good catalyst for discussing climate change, with almost blanket coverggae over the course of the day on Facebook and Twitter, as well as old-style media (TV, newpapers etc).

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