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A Stairway to Heaven: The Role of Desert Dust Storms in the Global Scale Dispersion of Microorganisms

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Monday, December 8, 2014

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This is a past event.

Dale Griffin
United States Geological Survey

The phenomenon known as ‘desert-dust storms’ moves an estimated 3.5 x 109 metric tons of soil and dried sediment some distance in Earth’s atmosphere each year. The largest of these frequent events are capable of dispersing significant quantities of dust and dust-associated microorganisms around the globe and to upper atmospheric altitudes. Major sources of dust are the Sahara and Sahel regions of North Africa and the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts of Asia. Dust transport out of these regions to other continents are frequently tracked and imaged by numerous remote sensing platforms. This presentation will present historical observations and recent research conducted aboard two International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expeditions (#s 209 and 336), at Mount Bachelor Observatory (Bend, OR) and during a number of high altitude NASA ER-2 flights to determine the types of culturable and non-culturable microorganisms that are detectable in samples collected during dust events, during background periods and at tropopause altitudes.

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