Two sediment records of dust deposition from Fish Lake, in southern Colorado, offer a new perspective on southwest United States (Southwest) aridity and dustiness over the last 3000 years. Micro scanning X-ray fluorescence and grain size analysis provide separate measures of wind-deposited dust in the lake sediment. Together these new records confirm anomalous dustiness in the 19th and 20th centuries, associated with recent land disturbance, drought, and livestock grazing. Before significant anthropogenic influences, changes in drought frequency and aridity also generated atmospheric dust loading. Medieval times were associated with high levels of dustiness, coincident with widespread aridity. These records indicate the Southwest is naturally prone to dustiness. As global and regional temperatures rise and the Southwest shifts toward a more arid landscape, the Southwest will likely become dustier, driving negative impacts on snowpack and water availability, as well as human health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)