Large Salt Dust Storms Follow a 30-Year Rainfall Cycle in the Mar Chiquita Lake (Cordoba, Argentina)
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Large Salt Dust Storms Follow a 30-Year Rainfall Cycle in the Mar Chiquita Lake (Cordoba, Argentina)
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    PLOS ONE. 2016; 11(6): e0156672.
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  • Description:
    Starting in 2006, a new source of intense salt dust storms developed in Mar Chiquita (Cordoba, Argentina), the largest saline lake in South America. Storms originate from vast mudflats left by a 30-year expansion-retreat cycle of the lake due to changes in the regional rainfall regime. The annual frequency of salt dust storms correlated with the size of the salt mudflats. Events were restricted to the coldest months, and reached up to 800 km from the source. Occurrence of dust storms was associated with specific surface colors and textures easily identifiable in satellite images. High-emission surfaces were characterized by the presence of sodium sulfate hydrous/anhydrous crystals (mirabilite and thenardite), and a superficial and variable water table, which may result in the periodic development of a characteristic "fluffy" surface derived from salt precipitation-dissolution processes. HYSPLIT model simulation estimates a deposition maximum near the sources (of about 2.5 kg/ha/yr), and a decreasing trend from the emission area outwards, except for the relative secondary maximum modeled over the mountain ranges in southern Bolivia and northern Argentina due to an orographic effect. The 2009 total deposition of salt dust generated in Mar Chiquita was estimated at 6.5 million tons.
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