Sand and dust storm definitions

Small particulate matter found in the atmosphere can be derived from numerous sources. Such material includes sea salt, volcanic dust and industrial pollutants, but this report is concerned with particles that are eroded by wind from land surfaces. The distinction between sand storms and dust storms is not clear-cut since there is a continuum of particle sizes in any storm, comprising clay-sized (less than 4 micrometres, or μm, in diameter); silt-sized (4 to 62.5μm); and sand-sized (62.5μm to 2 mm), adopting the commonly used standardized grade scale described by Wentworth (1922).1 The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) defines a dust storm or sand storm as an ensemble of particles lifted to great heights by a strong and turbulent wind that reduces visibility, normally assessed at 1.8 m above the ground, to less than 1,000 m.

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