Paleo Dust


Much of my recent research has focused on understanding the natural variability of dust and its impact on global climate. I am involved in reconstructing changes in the magnitude and provenance (source) of dust input to the ocean and the Antarctic ice sheet.

Click here for our 2008 paper in Science/Science Express

Click here for the news feature/press release

Click here for NY Times ‘Week in Science’

Why is dust important?

Dust influences climate by altering the radiation budget of the atmosphere, and influences marine biogeochemistry by providing a source of essential micronutrients such as iron. research on the role of dust in the past has been hampered by the scarcity of well-resolved internally consistent records of dust deposition, particularly at low latitudes.

What’s new?

Using novel proxy techniques (Th-232, He-4) to reconstruct dust fluxes in tropical Pacific sediments we find remarkable consistency over the past 500,000 years  among sites spanning more than a quarter of Earth’s circumference, as well as between tropical regions and Antarctica. Our evidence for synchronous response to climate change by interhemispheric dust sources provides, for the first time, a quantitative basis for  evaluating the role of dust in past climate change and in climate-related changes in marine biogeochemical cycles.

For more information, please contact Gisela Winckler (winckler(at)


This satellite image shows dust blowing off of mainland China over the Sea of Japan, the islands of Japan itself, and out into the Pacific Ocean (Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC)