In the past 20 years, dust transport from southern South America to Antarctica has increased

In the context of global climate change, the monitoring and research of polar climate change has received more and more attention. South America is the closest continent to Antarctica, and climate change in its southern region has an important impact on climate change in Antarctica. The Patagonian region of southern South America is one of the main sources of dust transport in Antarctica, and studies have shown that sand and dust in this region can be transported to Antarctica through atmospheric circulation and play an important role in Antarctic climate change, but the changes in dust emissions and transport in the region in recent decades are not well understood.

The increase in dust emissions from the Patagonian desert in South America from 2000 to 2020 has also increased the transport of sand and dust from the region to Antarctica. (Photo by Shi Cuicui)

Recently, “Earth and Planetary Changes” published the results of cooperation between Mao Rui, a professor at the School of National Security and Emergency Management of Beijing Normal University, the Department of Geography of Beijing Normal University, the Korea Polar Research Institute and CSSC Marine Technology Co., Ltd. The study found that in the past 20 years, the frequency of dust events in the southern Patagonia region of southern South America has increased significantly, and the transport of sand and dust in the region to the South Pole has also increased. The drying of the surface in the region and changes in atmospheric circulation that favour dust events combine to provide favourable conditions for increased dust emissions and transport.

“The results of this study contribute to our understanding of climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in the Antarctic region.” Mao Rui, the corresponding author of the paper, told China Science News.

The study based on global observation site data, reanalysis data and satellite remote sensing data on dust events in the southern region of South America and concluded that in the past 20 years, Patagonian dust events have shown an increasing trend, especially after 2005. Patagonia dust is transported eastward and southward with atmospheric circulation, reaching the Weddell Sea, the Antarctic Peninsula and East Antarctica, and this dust transport has been increasing in the past 20 years.

From 2000 to 2020, in the spring of the southern hemisphere, the precipitation in the Patagonian region decreased, soil moisture decreased, and the surface temperature increased, making the surface of the region drier, and the increase of wind speed provided favorable conditions for the emission of sand, which led to an increase in the frequency of sand and dust events. The strengthening of westerly winds in this region has facilitated the transport of sand and dust to Antarctica, resulting in an increase in sand and dust settlement in the Weddell Sea and Antarctic regions.

The research was co-funded by the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Project, the Korea Polar Research Institute Project, and the Open Project of the Engineering Research Center of the Ministry of Education for Desertification Prevention and Control of Beijing Normal University. (Source: Cui Xueqin, China Science News)

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