Segments in this Video

Introduction: Dust Storm (02:13)


Dust storms are created by soil particles and wind; they cause respiratory illness and move billions of tons of dirt a year. Advancements in prevention and prediction technologies can limit damages caused by the increasing problem.

Dust Origins (05:03)

Dust storms are sudden and dangerous, causing illness and death; they are a natural phenomenon but climate change has increased their numbers. Sand is generated in the Sahara desert and other dry regions; Middle Eastern countries are most affected. The America Dust bowl resulted drought and over farming, leading to crop failures; tons of loose soil created long lasting systems; in response, Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act.

Increasing Effects (04:47)

Located between the Sahara and Gobi deserts, the Middle East is most impacted by dust storms; recent droughts have worsened the problem. Soil moisture connects particles and keeps them grounded; water sources in the region have diminished due to scarce precipitation and increased use. Dams are commonly utilized to control water, but have caused a crisis; Turkey's Ataturk Dam diverts a third of the Euphrates River for irrigation.

Dry Lake Beds (02:17)

Lake Urmia, once the largest in the Middle East, has shrunk dramatically due to restricted inflow by dams; evaporation and increased salification create easily transported sediments. Arid lake beds are a major source of dust storms; overused Lake Owens is now the number one origin of dirt aerosols in North America.

Kuwait (06:49)

Kuwait endures 21 dust storms a year, and numbers are increasing. Dust inhalation negatively impacts human health, and can result in respiratory problems and allergies; sediments, industry pollutants and pollen form a potentially lethal combination; outside communicable diseases, poor air quality is the number one killer in the area. 20% of occupants suffer from asthma; residents describe their resulting conditions and precautions taken to keep particles out of their homes.

Dust Research (05:08)

Chemical composition of soil varies, and includes organic material; scientists use gamma spectrometry to detect radiation in Kuwaiti dirt. Particle size factors in health problems; small sediments can be lodged in tissues or absorbed directly into the blood. A mineralogist at the University of Sheffield identifies elements found by microscope study and X ray diffraction; quartz forms in sharp crystals and causes respiratory problems and mucus irritation.

Studies From Space (04:12)

Satellites provide a global vision for dust storm research; NASA predicts the events by monitoring moisture, vegetation and soil composition. Physical scientists explain computer models and images of aerosol distribution; they confirm a significant increase of storms in the Middle East.

Developing Warning Systems (03:16)

The MareNostrum super computer is used by international research scientists to predict dust storms of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in order to alert the populations. The technology is in development and not yet as reliable as weather forecasting.

Effects of War (04:55)

Dust storms are exacerbated by terrorism and armed conflicts, which disturb dry surfaces and destroy native vegetation. Toxic elements and legacy chemicals are collected by sediments and further degrade air quality. Aerosols from Iraq and other neighboring regions blow into Ahvaz, making it one of the most polluted places on Earth.

Storm and Impact Prevention (05:04)

In June 2014, Tehran was hit by a massive dust storm; its economic and social affects were devastating. Practical remedies such as planting drought resistant vegetation help subdue desertification. Satellites detect moisture and other variables that inform preventative measures; online technologies aid in forecast and alert residents.

Varying Impacts (03:51)

Native Caribbean pottery is made from North African soil; aerosol sediments fertilize the Amazon rain forest and Hawaiian islands. Saharan dust blows across the Atlantic; its effects on declining coral reefs near southern Florida are studied by environmental microbiologists, who describe their research.

Public Policy (01:43)

Dust storms must be prevented by defeating desertification caused by climate change, war, and resource exploitation. Land and water conservation practices will need to be collectively changed in Middle East.

Credits: Dust Storm (00:42)

Credits: Dust Storm

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Dust Storm

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film looks at the science of what we know about dust storms. It explores what causes them, why they appear to be occurring more frequently and severely in some parts of the world, and what advances have been made in predicting and managing these storms. Filmed in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, the film sheds light on what can be achieved using scientific data, and how this data can guide individuals and governments in deciding when and how to act.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL165468

ISBN: 978-1-64481-275-4

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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