Cuban expert warns of harmful consequences of dust from the Sahara

The doctor of sciences Eugenio Mojena López warned that the season of risk in Cuba for the arrival with more intensity of dust from the Sahara has begun, which can have negative consequences in different areas.

“The first clouds for Cuba, as we define the season, begin to arrive in March, they increase, and have the maximum arrivals in the months of June and July. They can remain intense until the first week of August,” said Mojena, who heads a working group that investigates the effects of this phenomenon on the island, in statements offered to the national news program of the Cuban state television.

According to Mojena, dust from the Sahara carries pathogens that can be powerful enough to cause epidemics.

Similarly, this phenomenon has turned Cuba and the Caribbean into a corridor for asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“The most affected are children and older adults, and the maximum incidence occurs in July,” specifies the scientist.

Also, with the dust come bacteria, staphylococci, mites, fecal components, and fungi harmful to agriculture and ocean life.

“It has been proven that the fungus that is causing the death of tropical corals is endemic to that desert,” he explains.

Among its positive consequences, the dust from the Sahara desert cools the atmosphere and transports essential components for the nutrition of forested areas.

It is essential, for example, for the health of the vegetable lung of the Amazon.

Also, dust from the Sahara influences the formation of tropical cyclones, so their arrival can have an impact on the decrease in intensity and quantity of these meteorological events.

At the beginning of June, the Cuban Institute of Meteorology (INSMET) announced on its social networks the arrival of a cloud of dust from the Sahara with slight concentrations of this.

The presence of this phenomenon, together with the high cloudiness, kept the sky whitish over Havana and several areas of the island in recent weeks, as could be seen in photographs taken in the city.

“The arrival of this dust will bring with it unique views of sunsets and sunrises, with unusual tones in the Caribbean, making them more colorful and vibrant,” Mexican meteorologist Úrsula Pamela García said on that occasion.

García clarified that the phenomenon has dry air and strong winds that can help inhibit the development of tropical cyclones, at least temporarily. It also helps to suppress the presence of rain, since the dust covers the lower atmosphere and limits the growth of convective cloudiness.

A week later, The Forecast Center announced the presence of a cloud of dust that covered the eastern half of the country.

“Saharan dust covers the eastern half of the Cuban archipelago. A tropical wave south of Cuba will encourage rains in the afternoon from Artemisa to Cienfuegos,” the scientific institution reported.

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