Mineral dust is one of the major components of the world's aerosol mix, having a number of impacts within the Earth system. However, the climate forcing impact of mineral dust is currently poorly constrained, with even its sign uncertain. As Australian deserts are more reddish than those in the northern hemisphere, it is important to better understand the physical, chemical and optical properties of this important aerosol. We have investigated the properties of Australian desert dust at a site in SW Queensland, which is strongly influenced by both dust and biomass burning aerosol. Three years of ground-based monitoring of spectral optical thickness has provided a statistical picture of gross aerosol properties. In November 2006 we undertook a field campaign which collected 4 sets of size-resolved aerosol samples for laboratory analysis both ion beam analysis and ion chromatography.
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