Multiple dust sources in the Sahara Desert: The importance of sand dunes

Onn Crouvi*, Kerstin Schepanski, Rivka Amit, Alan R. Gillespie, Yehouda Enzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


We determine the current sources of dust in the Sahara Desert using quantitative correlation between the number of days with dust storms (NDS), derived from remote-sensing data of high temporal resolution, with the distribution of the soil types and geomorphic units. During 2006-8 the source of over 90% of the NDS was found to be sand dunes, leptosols, calcisols, arenosols, and rock debris. In contrast to previous studies, only few dust storms originated from playas and dry lake beds. Land erodibility was estimated by regressing the NDS to the number of days with high-speed wind events, and was found to be high for sand dunes. Clay and fine-silt grains and aggregates are scarce in sand dunes, which most likely produce dust particles through aeolian abrasion of sand grains. Thus, saltating sand grains impacting clay aggregates on playa surfaces cannot be the sole process for generating dust in the Sahara.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberL13401
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2012


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