A new study from The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia shows that although topsoil is rich in nutrients and carbon, it is increasingly being blown away by events such as the “Red Dawn” in Sydney in 2009.
The amount and location of soil carbon is changed when wind lifts carbon dust into the atmosphere. Some of the carbon falls back to the ground, some leaves Australia and some ends up in the ocean, according to the study.
Dr. Adrian Chappell, CSIRO research scientist, and an international team of wind erosion and dust emission experts calculated the extent of these carbon dust emissions. The results of their study were published in a recent issue of the journal Global Change Biology.
“Carbon stored in our soils helps sustain plant growth. Our modeling shows that millions of tons of dust and carbon are blowing away, and it is uncertain where all that ends up,” Dr Chappell said.
“We need to understand the impact of this dust carbon cycle to develop more accurate national and global estimates of carbon balances and to be able to prepare for life in a changing climate.