Across the entire Eastern coastline of Australia, from Sydney to Brisbane, has been blanketed the entire morning with a red haze of desert dust. So big is the storm that apparently even the NY Times has picked up on it. The news is reporting that the air pollution levels are reaching 1500 times the normal record – an estimated 5 million tonnes of soil blown across the country. The question everyone seems to be asking is if the dust storms are related to climate change. There’s no simple answer to this (other than weather shouldn’t be mistaken for climate), and that dust storms have been around for a long, long time. Having said that, the reduced rainfall in the drought-hit regions in Southern Australia and Victoria (in particular the Murray-Darling region) provide a source for the dust, and reduced rainfall in those regions (projected under climate change scenarios) suggests that frequent dust storms will be increasingly common. Below are pictures of the University of Queensland from yesterday morning blanketed under thick dust – see here and here for some incredible photographs across Queensland and New South Wales.

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