Sahara dust storms

NRL-Monterey

South Florida's air has been dustier than usual this week. 

The dust has come from across the Atlantic, originating from dust storms in the Sahara desert and being pushed towards the Americas by winds and tropical waves.

While the current influx of dust-filled air may be a hazard for people with respiratory conditions, scientists say it also brings with it a more positive effect.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

It’s hard to be a fan of hurricanes. Two out of three Haitians don’t have enough food to eat these days – thanks largely to storms like last year’s Hurricane Sandy and how they’ve ravaged Haiti’s agriculture.

And yet we need hurricanes once in a while. They’re a sort of planetary thermostat that cools oceans and redistributes hot air. Their rains more effectively alleviate droughts, and that can be a help instead of a horror to impoverished countries like Haiti.