Controls of dust emissions by vegetation and topographic depressions

An evaluation using dust storm frequency data

S. Engelstaedter*, K. E. Kohfeld, I. Tegen, S. P. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Citations (Scopus)


The degree to which dust emissions are controlled by vegetation cover and geomorphic setting (specifically closed topographic depressions) was investigated using dust storm frequency (DSF) data based on visibility measurements from >2400 meteorological stations worldwide. Comparisons with distributions of vegetation types suggest that DSF is highest in desert/bare ground (median: 60-80 d/yr) and shrubland (median: 20-30 d/yr) regions, and comparatively low in grassland regions (median: 2-4 d/yr). Average DSF is inversely correlated with leaf area index (an index of vegetation density) and net primary productivity. In non-forested regions, DSF increase as the fraction of closed topographic depressions increases, likely due to the accumulation of fine sediments in these areas. These findings support the importance of incorporating vegetation and geomorphic setting as explicit controls on emissions in global dust cycle models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2003

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