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June 9, 2017

Digging into the Knowledge Gap of Dust

Janice Brahney, assistant professor of watershed science in the Utah State University. Credit Utah State University/Quinney College of Natural Resources

Utah State University and iUTAH researcher Janice Brahney has been in the news for her contributions to research on impact of dust on freshwater ecosystems.


A media release provided by the Utah State University writer Traci Hillyard said, “Dust may be as old as dirt, but in that dust is valuable information. Atmospheric dust is important because it consists mostly of tiny particles of soil, which contain nutrients, metals, clays and carbonates making dust a significant vector of biologically important compounds. According to current research, dust has a significant impact on the biological productivity in oceans, forests and freshwater lakes, which has the potential to increase carbon storage across these varied landscapes. Dust is what Janice Brahney, assistant professor of watershed science in the Utah State University Quinney College of Natural Resources really digs. Brahney’s research focuses on the impact of that dust on freshwater ecosystems.   


‘The atmospheric transport of material is at present a large unmeasured component of critical biogeochemical cycles, like that of phosphorus,’ says Brahney. ‘These nutrients deposited with dust have significant effects on lake ecosystem function including productivity, species composition and carbon cycling.’ The shores of the Great Salt Lake, along with other playas and desert environments, are the leading contributors of dust in Utah.


‘Atmospheric dust arises from these low-elevation basins and is then deposited in mountain environments that act as natural barriers to transport,’ continues Brahney, who is interested in finding out how dust deposition impacts the nutrient availability and biology of affected lakes and rivers.”


The full study is available here.


Press: Utah State Today



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