Video: How winds transport over 27 million tonnes of dust from Sahara to Amazon

NASA study says 22,000 tonnes of this dust is phosphorus which acts like a fertiliser for the rainforests

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 26 February 2015

For the first time, NASA has quantified how much dust makes the 5,000 kilometre trans-Atlantic journey from the Sahara desert in Africa to the Amazon in South America through planetary winds. Phosphorus, an essential nutrient that acts like a fertiliser and on which the Amazons depend to thrive, travels with this dust.;

NASA says that more than 27 million tonnes of dust travels to the Amazon basin every year of which 22,000 tonnes is phosphorus. The rainforests lose just about the same amount of soil from rain and flooding every year.

The data was collected by NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation, or CALIPSO, satellite from 2007 through 2013. The study is being conducted as part of a larger research to understand the role of dust and aerosols on the environment and on local and global climate.


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