'Dust in the wind’ from source-to-sink: Analysis of the 14-15 April 2015 storm in Utah

Aeolian Research
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Abstract

On 14–15 April 2015, an intense intermountain cyclone in the western USA caused high winds and a dust storm that degraded air quality in the eastern Great Basin, and deposited dust-on-snow (DOS) in the Wasatch Range near Salt Lake City, Utah. We analyzed the storm and documented its “source-to-sink” development to relate the frontal passage with dust mobilization, air quality changes, and dust deposition on montane snowpack near Alta, Utah. This case study is first to track a dust storm and measure the elemental composition and radiative properties of the resulting DOS as a single specific event layer in Wasatch montane snowpack; prior studies have assessed seasonally aggregated DOS deposits. Dust plumes on MODIS imagery indicate mobilization from known regional “hotspots” for aeolian activity, including clay- and silt-rich alluvium, modern playas, and disturbed areas within the Pleistocene Paleolake Bonneville Basin. This 2015 single event dust layer was 1–3 cm thick with a median dust size of 10.81–12.55 µm; its measured radiative properties are similar to aggregated dusts previously assessed in Wasatch snowpack. Dust from the 2015 DOS event is enriched in the elements As, Cd, Cu, and Mo by a 10× factor relative to average elemental concentrations in the upper continental crust; its heavy metals (Cu, Pb, As, Cd, Mo, Zn) are probably derived from regional mine operations. Tracking elemental fluxes from source-to-sink is important for resolving environmental impacts, and informing future analysis of single storm dust loading, ecosystem impacts, and quantity and quality of meltwater-fed drinking water.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title 'Dust in the wind’ from source-to-sink: Analysis of the 14-15 April 2015 storm in Utah
Series title Aeolian Research
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2019.06.002
Volume 46
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 100532, 15 p.
Country United States
State Utah
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