Desert dust: facts and figures – 60 thousand tons of desert dust in the air over Switzerland – Meteo


An estimate of how much and how desert dust travels by air and back to Earth.

How much desert dust is currently in the air?

a lot. Let’s try an estimate: At noon on Wednesday, the dust concentration was 1.5 grams per square meter.

How much dust can be expected on the Earth’s surface?

Even if the particles are very small, on the order of one thousandth of a millimeter, over time they sink into deeper layers of the air. They are deposited on the ground, on garden furniture and cars. When it rains, dust is washed out of the air more efficiently. Residues are clearly visible on the surfaces. Only local precipitation is in sight through the end of the week.

Is desert dust rare here?

Desert greetings come again and again. But such high concentrations of dust that are presently present over several days are rare. Some of you may still remember the beginning of February 2021, when a greater amount of desert dust reached us. These events are most likely to occur in the spring and fall. It needs not only sandstorms in North Africa, but also a high southern current that brings dust to Switzerland.


Percentage of desert dust events in Switzerland per month

SRF Weather

How does dust from the desert reach us?

This requires strong winds in the desert region. In North Africa, inclement weather is often caused by areas of low pressure. Depressions dominate the fronts across the desert. The accompanying wind swirls around the sand and lifts the fine particles several thousand metres. With the right high winds, the dust could then be carried to central Europe.

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