Clifford’s dust storm study among top 10% of JGR: Atmospheres downloaded papers

Heather Clifford’s groundbreaking study that found a warming planet will make dust storms more intense in the Mediterranean, which will impact glaciers, air quality and frequency of North Atlantic hurricanes, was among the top 10% of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres’ most downloaded papers published between January 2018 and December 2019.

Clifford is a doctoral student in the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. She was a master’s degree student in Quaternary and climate studies, with a concentration in ice cores and data analysis, when she conducted the research.

The study was another milestone in the collaboration between the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard University and the CCI. An interdisciplinary team of climate scientists, historians and archaeologists combined data from an ice core retrieved from the European Alps with highly detailed historical records.

The CCI’s W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility created a nondestructive system that allows indefinite preservation of the ice, while providing climate data of the unprecedented ultra-high resolution which alone is compatible with detailed historical data.

Using the highest-resolution continuous climate record ever published, the study, titled “A 2000 Year Saharan Dust Event Proxy Record from an Ice Core in the European Alps,” explains connections between dust storms, extended periods of drought, volcanoes and warming in the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia.

“We hope this record will unlock new opportunities to learn about the long-term effects of Saharan dust storms on ecology, human health and climate change,” said Clifford.

Clifford and all co-authors received a certificate of achievement. Co-authors from the CCI include Alexander More, Nicole Spaulding, Andrei Kurbatov, Elena Korotkikh, Sharon Sneed, Mike Handley, Kirk Maasch and Paul Mayewski. Co-author Michael McCormick is with the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard and co-author Joyce Chaplin is with the History Department at Harvard. Co-author Christopher Loveluck is with the Department of Archaeology at the University of Nottingham.

JGR: Atmospheres is a journal of the American Geophysical Union. It publishes original research articles that advance and improve the understanding of atmospheric properties and processes, including the interaction of the atmosphere with other components of the Earth system, as well as their roles in climate variability and change.