Mineral dust plays a pivotal role in the Earth’s system. Dust modulates the global energy budget directly via its interactions with radiation and indirectly via its influence on cloud and precipitation formation processes. Dust is a micro-nutrient and fertilizer for ecosystems due to its mineralogical composition and thus impacts on the global carbon cycle. Hence, dust aerosol is an essential part of weather and climate. Dust suspended in the air is determined by the atmospheric dust cycle: Dust sources and emission processes define the amount of dust entrained into the atmosphere. Atmospheric mixing and circulation carry plumes of dust to remote places. Ultimately, dust particles are removed from the atmosphere by deposition processes such as gravitational settling and rain wash out. During its residence time, dust interacts with and thus modulates the atmosphere resulting into changes such as in surface temperature, wind, clouds, and precipitation rates. There are still uncertainties regarding individual dust interactions and their relevance. Dust modulates key processes that are inevitably influencing the Earth energy budget. Dust transport allows for these interactions and at the same time, the intermittency of dust transport introduces additional fluctuations into a complex and challenging system.
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