Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 49, Issue 9, pp 953–960 | Cite as

Dust storms and loess accumulation on the Tibetan Plateau: A case study of dust event on 4 March 2003 in Lhasa

  • Xiaomin Fang
  • Yongxiang Han
  • Jinghui Ma
  • Lianchun Song
  • Shengli Yang
  • Xiaoye Zhang


Whether the Tibetan Plateau is a significant dust source area is of great importance, because this is related to the understanding of sources, accumulation and environmental effects of dusts on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Far East-Pacific Ocean regions as well as to the evolution of coupling of the Tibetan Plateau and atmosphere-ocean-continent exchange. Synoptic dynamics and remote sensing tracing of a dust storm on 3 to 5 March, 2003 in Lhasa on South Tibet demonstrate that the Tibetan Plateau possesses all factors and conditions of generating dust storms. Accompanied with this dust storm is a strong ascending stream on the Plateau which has raised various sizes of dust particles into different levels. The lifted coarse particles were largely fallen down and accumulated as loess on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, and the fine particles were translated by the westerly jet and subsided in the northern Pacific Ocean. The spatial-temporal distribution of dust-storms between years 1961 and 2000 on the Plateau shows that dust-storms mainly occur in winter and early spring with high frequency, and the path of dust storm moves gradually from south to north, which is closely coupled with the northward moving of the westerly jet from winter to spring over the Tibetan Plateau. Compared with other twelve dust source areas in China, the Tibetan Plateau is one of the key dust source areas for the long-distance transport because its high occurring frequency and elevation cause fine particles easily to be lifted into the zone of the westerly jet.


Tibetan Plateau dust storm dust source areas Tibetan loess 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaomin Fang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yongxiang Han
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jinghui Ma
    • 1
  • Lianchun Song
    • 3
  • Shengli Yang
    • 1
  • Xiaoye Zhang
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Lanzhou University), Ministry of Education & College of Resources and EnvironmentLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.Lanzhou Arid Meteorological Institute of China Meteorological BureauLanzhouChina

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