Airborne Dust Bulletin: sand and dust storm warning advisory and assessment system

The World Meteorological Organization has issued its first annual Airborne Dust Bulletin, giving an overview of atmospheric dust levels and geographical distribution in 2016. The report is part of efforts to improve observations and warnings of sand and dust storms, which pose serious risks to the environment, human health and economy in arid and semi-Arid regions. The global average Aerosol Optical Depth – a measure of the dust burden - for 2016 was similar to previous years, according to the report, which highlighted particularly severe sand and dust storms in Iran and China/Mongolia. It said there was no clearly-defined trend from 2003 through 2016, partly because of modelling capacity constraints and the relatively short time period since systematic observations began in 2003. The report was presented to a symposium of WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme, which seeks to strengthen scientific understanding of the increasing influence of human activities on atmospheric composition and subsequent environmental and climate impacts.