Saharan dust: Six things you didn't know about red dust storms
Dust all the way from Africa has reached Britain after unusual weather patterns
Motorists across the country awoke to grains of dust coating their cars on Monday, which had travelled all the way from the Saharan desert to leave a little piece of North Africa on their vehicles.
But the dust has also triggered fears it may cause health problems for people across Britain. The Government issued warnings of “very high” levels of air pollution across parts of England and Wales, after the dust and winds combined to create a potentially toxic storm.
Here are six other things you may not have known about Saharan dust:
1. Red dust storms can cause air pollution to increase to “very high levels” and can aggravate breathing problems. Health professionals warn the dust may irritate lung tubes and cause asthma to flare up.
2. While it may not be healthy for humans, Saharan dust can prove beneficial for the environment. Trees and plants in the Amazon Rainforest rely on the nutrient-rich dust, which helps to keep the area fertile, New Scientist reported.
3. However, researchers have also linked Saharan dust to coral disease. Coral reefs in the Caribbean have been in a state of decline since the 1970s. Scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) Centre for Coastal Geology believe this decline in the Caribbean is a result of pathogens transported in dust from North Africa.
4. The dust clouds can literally turn the sea from blue to a reddish brown by encouraging the growth of algae blooms in a phenomenon known as red tides.The toxic blooms have been responsible for the deaths of huge numbers of fish, marine mammals and birds in the past. They can also have an impact on human health by causing respiratory problems for those living near a shoreline.
5. Dust clouds from the Sahara are often so big they can be seen from space. Space station crew members frequently report seeing Saharan dust masses as very widespread atmospheric haze, according to Nasa.
6. These dust palls blowing from Africa can be lifted as high as 15,000 feet and transported across the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists found dust from the Sahara influences levels of precipitation as far as California because of a hot, dry, dusty layer of air known as the Saharan Air Layer.
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Church of England threatens to cease BP and Shell investments over climate concerns
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Prince William attacks China over 'ignorant craving' for ivory
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...