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Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments: Dust Storms

Updated Thursday, 19th March 2020
Cook up a (dust) storm in your own home by participating in this mini science experiment.

Dust can be lifted into the atmosphere by high winds. After large storms, small dust particles might remain airborne for weeks. You may have found red, Saharan dust on your car. More seriously, the dustbowl of the US mid-west caused great hardship in the first half of the 20th Century. Soil erosion and the spreading of deserts remains a cause of great concern in many parts of the world and shows signs of getting worse.

One puzzle is that it is hard for the wind to lift small small dust particles, which tend to stick together on the ground. On the other hand, the larger sand grains and gravel will not be transported very far in the air before they fall out. This video discusses these ideas and shows you how to simulate the important process of dust lifting by saltation.


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