Gobi Dust Over Northeast China and Korea
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Gobi Dust Over Northeast China and Korea

September 4, 2003
Dust blowing off the Gobi desert eastward across the China toward the Pacific Ocean is a common event. Space Shuttle astronauts have photographed these dusts storms several times. The photographs above show a thick blanket of dust that entirely obscures the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. The dust is being transported from west (left) to east (right). The mountainous spine of the peninsula induces gravity waves in the dust cloud on the downwind (east) side.

The source of the dust is the vast loess (wind-laid dust) sheet of Inner Mongolia that stretches west from Beijing 1400 km to the Sinkiang border. The climatic gradient is characterized by rapidly decreasing rainfall west from Beijing, from 500 mm/yr to 250 mm/yr only 300 km upwind. Below 250 mm of yearly rainfall, vegetation density is low enough to allow wind deflation of surface dust. Air masses over the Takla Makan Desert of Sinkiang are usually dust laden to some degree. Occasionally, the dust loading becom

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