Sandy greetings from Sahara

Currently, warm air from North Africa is flowing into Germany. This air brings not only warmth, but also dust from the Sahara Desert. Anyone who has left their car outside will find it covered in a brownish powder. The German Weather Service has explained the scientific background of the phenomenon in its research documents. 90 percent of the Sahara dust consists of compounds of metals such as aluminum or iron, but clay, quartz or plaster are also present. When the wind is blowing strongly enough across the desert, it lifts particles from the surface. Particles that are small enough are carried high into the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. This is called the troposphere and is 8 to 18 kilometers thick. It contains about 90 percent of all the air and almost all the steam in the Earth’s atmosphere. Small particles remain in it for days and weeks. About half of the solid particles originate from the Sahara. High-altitude winds can then transport them over several thousand kilometers. They settle there as dust or are dissolved in falling rain. Even on the roof of a car.


Staub aus der Sahara-Wüste auf einem Auto. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Wolfgang Sannwald.

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