Dune fields of the present day, the Dust Bowl disaster of the 1930s U.S. Great Plains, and contemporary efforts to forecast, simulate, and understand dust storms have a striking, uniform commonality. What these apparently diverse phenomena have in common is that they all result from blowing sand and dust. This review paper unifies these three disparate but related phenomena. Its over-arching goal is to clearly explain these manifestations of windblown sand and dust. First, for contemporary dune fields, we offer reviews of two technical papers that explain the eolian formation and the continuing development of two major dune fields in southeastern California and northwestern Sonora, Mexico: the Algodones Dunes and the Gran Desierto de Altar. Second, historical, geological, meteorological, and socioeconomic aspects of the 1930s Great Plains Dust Bowl are discussed. Third, and last, we return to the present day to summarize two lengthy reports on dust storms and to review two technical papers that concern their forecasting and simulation. The intent of this review is to acquaint the interested reader with how eolian transport of sand and dust affects the formation of present-day dune fields, human agricultural enterprises, and efforts to better forecast and simulate dust storms. Implications: Blowing sand and dust have drastically affected the geological landscape and continue to shape the formation of dune fields today. Nearly a century ago the U.S. Great Plains suffered through the Dust Bowl, yet another consequence of blowing sand and dust brought on by drought and mismanagement of agricultural lands. Today, this phenomenon adversely affects landscapes, transportation, and human respiratory health. A more complete understanding of this phenomenon could (and has) led to more effective mitigation of dust sources, as well as to a more accurate predictive system by which the public can be forewarned.
Part of the book: Deserts and Desertification