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Sources, drivers and sedimentology of Icelandic dust events

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posted on 08.06.2018, 08:08 by Thomas Mockford
There is increasing evidence for high magnitude dust storms in high latitude environments. Yet, Aeolian processes in these areas have been largely understudied and therefore our knowledge of these systems is limited. Understanding dust emission processes from the high latitudes regions is of increasing importance because future climate scenarios indicate a reduction in terrestrial ice masses and an expansion in glacial outwash plains which are the main dust sources in high latitude environments. Of these regions, Iceland is the most researched high latitude dust source region, however our understanding of processes which lead to dust events are still poorly understood. This thesis examines the interlinking relationship between dust source and dust particle sedimentology and the physical and meteorological drivers which promote or inhibit dust emission in Iceland. This is achieved through active aeolian monitoring at source during two monitoring periods at Markarfljot, South Iceland. These measurements are complimented using secondary data sources (e.g. meteorological and satellite data), sedimentological mapping and particle analysis and laboratory abrasion experiments. This thesis is the first high resolution multi event record of dust emissions in the high latitudes and concludes by showing that potential dust concentrations and dust particle size are driven by the interlinking relationship between wind speed, sediment texture and surface moisture. Factors that affect the potential sediment availability for dust events are more important in the high latitudes than in the subtropics in driving spatial and temporal variability in dust emission. Measurements presented in this thesis are required to verify and tune regional and global modelling attempts to quantify the potential contribution of high latitude dust in the Earth system. However, further measurements are required to fully understand seasonal changes in dust emissions, across a variety of dust source units within all high latitude dust source regions.


British Society of Geomorphology. Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG, Dudley Stamp Memorial Award).



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


© Tom Mockford

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.



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