How Dust Allows For Life On Earth

September 18, 2018

Dust is something we all hate having to clean up in our homes, but dust carries nutrients across the globe to help environment growth world wise. However, in recent years atmospheric dust has been increasing that can cause dangerous consequences.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Patrick Jones: [MUSIC] Take a look at that sunset.

Patrick Jones: Ah, man that's gorgeous.

Patrick Jones: That beauty believe it or not wouldn't be

Patrick Jones: possible without dust. That's right.

Patrick Jones: Dust. The stunning colors of sunsets,

Patrick Jones: sunrises and even our blue skies are made

Patrick Jones: from light passing through gas molecules as

Patrick Jones: well as interacting with the dust and small particles in

Patrick Jones: upper atmosphere and other times it's cloudy and rainy.

Patrick Jones: But dust gives us that too.

Patrick Jones: That's really only the beginning.

Patrick Jones: We pretty much our lives to dust.

Patrick Jones: So, let's take a look.

Patrick Jones: Everyone, I'm Patrick Jones and

Patrick Jones: welcome to Cheddar Explores.

Patrick Jones: [LAUGHTER] I got a stretch.

Patrick Jones: In our atmosphere, elements from meteors to

Patrick Jones: dirt sand and pretty much anything else give us dust.

Patrick Jones: In places like Saharan Africa,

Patrick Jones: dust made from dirt and sand is

Patrick Jones: swept up into the atmosphere by strong winds.

Patrick Jones: That dust from Saharan Africa is thought

Patrick Jones: to be a vehicle for nutrients like iron.

Patrick Jones: Iron is critical for plant growth.

Patrick Jones: The iron that blows off Saharan Africa encourages

Patrick Jones: growth in some otherwise barren places.

Patrick Jones: It's thought to produce forests in Ghana,

Patrick Jones: algae blooms in the Atlantic Ocean and

Patrick Jones: also Hubbs rainforest grow in the Amazon.

Patrick Jones: The Amazon might not be what it is without the influx of

Patrick Jones: dust from Africa and that's 3,000 miles away.

Patrick Jones: All that's important but now think about rain.

Patrick Jones: Without dust in our water cycle, it wouldn't rain.

Patrick Jones: You see in order for water to fall

Patrick Jones: the earth it has to weigh enough.

Patrick Jones: Water vapor as a gas is too light.

Patrick Jones: That's why it's in the atmosphere in the first place.

Patrick Jones: Cooler air causes water vapor to condensate on to

Patrick Jones: dust particles and when it

Patrick Jones: builds up enough it creates rain.

Patrick Jones: The amount of dust in our atmosphere is

Patrick Jones: constantly changing and right now it's increasing.

Patrick Jones: That could have major consequences for our environment.

Patrick Jones: And you guessed it, it's our fault.

Patrick Jones: Forest keeps soil in the ground but humans are cutting

Patrick Jones: down those forests at a rate of

Patrick Jones: 18.7 million acres a year.

Patrick Jones: That means more dust is making its way into

Patrick Jones: the atmosphere that's creating more clouds.

Patrick Jones: Because all clouds really are,

Patrick Jones: is water vapor that's starting to

Patrick Jones: attach itself to dust in the air,

Patrick Jones: it's just not heavy enough to fall yet.

Patrick Jones: According to NASA,

Patrick Jones: roughly 67 percent of the planet is covered in

Patrick Jones: clouds and that number could

Patrick Jones: increase if dust continues to accumulate.

Patrick Jones: Scientists are still determining the full scope of

Patrick Jones: the problem but it can have one of two consequences.

Patrick Jones: It could either cool down the earth or heat it up.

Patrick Jones: A cloud depending on its type or position in

Patrick Jones: the atmosphere can either block

Patrick Jones: sunlight and create a cooling effect,

Patrick Jones: or clouds can prevent heat from

Patrick Jones: escaping the earth adding to the greenhouse effect.

Patrick Jones: Solutions are scarce,

Patrick Jones: because there's still information we need to collect.

Patrick Jones: Dust can also carry pollution.

Patrick Jones: We know that dust can travel

Patrick Jones: far distances and have consequences half the world away.

Patrick Jones: [inaudible 00:03:00] in China for example,

Patrick Jones: could cause acid rain in California.

Patrick Jones: The world is more interconnected in

Patrick Jones: that regard than we sometimes realize.

Patrick Jones: Think about that next time you're

Patrick Jones: sweeping your apartment [MUSIC].