As a religious portent out of Shakespeare that 'something is not right' the dust enveloping most all of 4 million population of Sydney metro right now, today, is hard to beat.
In the United Nations in New York as we write politicians are talking climate policy. In Sydney it's climate and traffic mayhem with 10 international flights cancelled already apparently. Biggest dust storm in Sydney for 70 years says one report, though other 'big ones' have affected other parts of Australia more often like Adelaide and Melbourne.
The politics ought not be underestimated though because Sydney is the weight in terms of concentrated population.
Public broadcaster ABC radio leads in with REMS's ironic 'End of the World as we know it'.
We remain agnostic about whether the reddish early morning glow featuring in morning newspaper websites (as above) is more sunrise refraction than actually red dust. At 9 am the light is yellowy grey and life is proceeding with say 1000 metre visibility.
Asthmatics and the unwell are being cautioned, smoke detector false alarms are at record levels, and cameras are getting dust clogged, again according to local abc radio. An articulate intrepid caller from Wilton to the same station reckons he measured 2.57 grammes of dust per square metre off an outside glass table. Now a (foolish?) listerner is miscalculating '10,000 sq metres in a square kilometre' with Sydney metro at 2000 km sq. Actually 1000 m x 1000m means there are a whopping 1 million sq metres in a sq km.
So the amount of topsoil dumped on Sydney would be:
1 million metres sq x 2000 km sq x 2.57 grammes = 5140 million grammes
or according to a handy web converter here making 5140 tonnes.
But keep in mind that this dust has blanketed say 50% of NSW which is 80 million hectares in area (from my previous time on conservation land use policy). Converting that to km sq by another handy web converter is 800,000 km sq. Sooo .... conservatively half of NSW at:
400,000 km sq /2000 km sq x 5140 tonnes = topsoil lost at sea.
We make it 1,028, 000 tonnes of top soil lost from the outback of NSW into the Pacific Ocean.
What effect all that dust has for good or ill will be interesting such as
- marine life which can use the nutrients (like a documentary of Central America fish stocks and the dust off the Sahara) or
- climate in neighbouring New Zealand (glacier melt due to darker covering and sun absorption?).
It all reminds of this natural spectacular sunrise some months back in clear skies in the Hawkesbury: