DICE - Dust Impact on Climate and Environment


PAGES' DICE working group was active from 2014 to 2018.

Mineral dust aerosols, emitted through wind erosion, affect air quality, radiative forcing, precipitation, atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry, and human health over significant portions of the planet. In particular, natural and human contributions of aerosols and dust are critically important components of climate and Earth system dynamics. The emission patterns and transport and impact of aerosols on societies are almost certain to change under ongoing climate and environmental change, and it is thus, increasingly important to improve our understanding of the impact of dust on climate and environment.

 Dust influences the radiative balance of the planet:
   1. either directly by reflecting and absorbing solar and longwave radiation, or
   2. indirectly by affecting cloud formation and precipitation patterns.

Mineral dust containing iron can also impact the marine biological carbon cycle by supplying micronutrients to regions of the ocean where iron-scarcity limits primary productivity, and thereby, affect the efficiency of the biological pump, a mechanism that could be important in driving ice age cycles. But not only does dust affect climate, it is also influenced by it: its production, atmospheric transport and deposition are sensitive to climatic conditions. It also acts as a tracer of continental conditions and atmospheric circulation. Records of past dust fluxes over local, regional and inter-hemispheric scales can indicate changes in the hydrological cycle, vegetation density or fine-grained sediment supply and can trace patterns of wind strength and direction.

Schematic showing the interactions between mineral aerosols and climate.


The DICE working group focused on the climate impacts of dust and aerosols. Specifically, DICE aimed to transform our understanding of the link between aerosols, climate, dust and circulation by synthesizing results from paleo reconstructions and modern observations and integrating them in coordinated state-of-the-art modeling efforts, such as the climate model intercomparison project (CMIP5), which was incorporated in the IPCC AR5 WG1 assessment report.

DICE built on the successful work and established network of PAGES' ADOM working group, the focus of which, was on understanding the dynamics and variability of large-scale atmospheric circulation from aeolian records of the last glacial cycle.

The DICE mailing list is still active. Sign up here.

Questions can be sent to the Group Co-Chairs.




IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp.