We only brush when they fly, but desert dust proves extremely beneficial: ‘It removes the greenhouse gas methane from the atmosphere’ |  Science and the planet

We only brush when they fly, but desert dust proves extremely beneficial: ‘It removes the greenhouse gas methane from the atmosphere’ | Science and the planet

The desert sand, which blows on our windows and into our cars with a southerly wind, turns out to be a gift from heaven. It is a remedy against global warming, writes De Telegraaf based on research carried out, among others, by the Royal Netherlands Institute for Marine Research (NIOZ). Desert dust removes methane from the atmosphere, which is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

International scientists, including Prof. Dr. Jan Berend Stott NewsFind out. For example, a sweltering desert can ensure that the rest of the globe never becomes the same.

I got carried away too

How does this dreaded desert dust get methane out of the atmosphere? This is a complicated thing. “It blows and sometimes the wind carries it very far,” explains the Dutch researcher. Mineral dust mixes with seawater spray to form a combination marine dust aerosol, or mineral sea spray aerosol (MDSA).

Sun light

MDSA is then reactivated by sunlight. “Under the influence of sunlight, iron from desert dust forms so-called chlorine radicals from sea salt (NaCl),” continues Professor Steot. “These electrically charged particles bind to the methane, breaking it down and removing it from the atmosphere.”

Methane appears to be a greenhouse gas that causes about 30 times more warming than carbon dioxide. So removing greenhouse gases is also a natural way to combat global warming. “The implications for the future climate of our planet could be enormous,” News said.

Satellite image of a dust storm in the Sahara moving across the Atlantic Ocean © NASA

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Continue searching

The research results were recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Further research is already underway.

“Our current research is focused on what specifically affects how much MDSA methane particles are removed from the atmosphere,” says Martin van Herpen, first author of the study. To do this, we analyze air samples from across the North Atlantic provided by air monitoring stations and commercial shipping. Sailors advance our research by filling bottles with air as they navigate through the desert dust cloud. So far we have collected 500 samples. The first results look very encouraging, but we need at least a full year of data before we can draw any conclusions.”

Read also: Can daffodils solve the planet’s methane problem?

the desert.
the desert. © Getty Images

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