By Peter Kuchar
Recently on 23rd of February I was witness of really amazing event, strongest dust storm in recent history of Canary Islands. Most of you probably know, but those wonderful islands are located 100 to 400 kilometers west from Africa coast of West Sahara. Dust is not unknown there, in facts those volcanic islands thanks to Sahara sand for their awesome beaches.
But this one was unprecedented. Sun disappeared, everything covered in martian orange hue, wind howling up to 150km/h. Concerned sights of airplanes making their final approach in ~500m visibility in sand and wind over 100km/h. Luckily all of them made it till final closure of airport.
Here are few examples how it looked:
Try to find airplane on this one…
Color of images corresponds with reality and please have on mind this was midday with subtropical sun high on sky.
And what exactly happened? Apparently there is exceptional situation with Jet Stream. It is not unseen to split into two, but usually one of those two is just short lived an weak. This time it was quite different. Both legs were strong. One coming through central US, passing Newfoundland, United Kingdom and central Europe. Second one coming from Caribbean through West Sahara and Mauritania to Algeria, Libya and Egypt. I’m looking on Jet Stream behavior for few years and this is unusually low south.
Those two high speed streams of air are creating situation for circular convection in between them.
Let’s look on situation on 23rd of February:
There is cyclone with center north of Canary Islands. Lifting sand in West Sahara and Mauritania and distributing it counterclockwise above Atlantic Ocean.
And this is like it was looking from satellite:
This is about time when it was worst on Canary Islands, but this cyclone is still going on.
Two days later situation looks like this:
Dust cloud covers substantial part of globe area and should definitely have impact on global temperature.
It is proven that during Ice Ages dust level in atmosphere is very high. The higher dust content the colder.
This event was exceptional, but if for some reasons this becomes periodical it can have serious impact on climate, I dare to say it can trigger descent to Ice Age.
All this is caused by position of Jet Streams and those are defined by position of Hadley, Ferrel and Polar cells.
Exact position of them has many variables like atmosphere pressure, speed of Earth rotation and probably Sun/Earth magnetic field.
If for some reasons Jet Stream will be located in such configuration, that dessert parts of globe will be close to its path,it will cause dust events on periodical and probably permanent basis rapidly changing Earth climate.