Concentrations of mineral aerosol from desert to plains across the central Rocky Mountains, western United States

Aeolian Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Mineral dusts can have profound effects on climate, clouds, ecosystem processes, and human health. Because regional dust emission and deposition in western North America are not well understood, measurements of total suspended particulate (TSP) from 2011 to 2013 were made along a 500-km transect of five remote sites in Utah and Colorado, USA. The TSP concentrations in μg m−3 adjusted to a 24-h period were relatively high at the two westernmost, dryland sites at Canyonlands National Park (mean = 135) and at Mesa Verde National Park (mean = 99), as well as at the easternmost site on the Great Plains (mean = 143). The TSP concentrations at the two intervening montane sites were less, with more loading on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains (Telluride, mean = 68) closest to the desert sites compared with the site on the eastern slope (Niwot Ridge, mean = 58). Dust concentrations were commonly highest during late winter-late spring, when Pacific frontal storms are the dominant causes of regional wind. Low concentrations (<7 wt%) of organic matter indicated that rock-derived mineral particles composed most TSP. Most TSP mass was carried by particle sizes larger than 10 μm (PM>10), as revealed by relatively low average daily concentrations of fine (<5 μg m−3; PM2.5) and coarse (<10 μg m−3; PM2.5–10) fractions monitored at or near four sites. Standard air-quality measurements for PM2.5 and PM10 apparently do not capture the large majority of mineral-particulate pollution in the remote western interior U.S.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Concentrations of mineral aerosol from desert to plains across the central Rocky Mountains, western United States
Series title Aeolian Research
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2016.09.001
Volume 23
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 21
Last page 35