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Sand and dust storms are common meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions. They are usually caused by thunderstorms – or strong pressure gradients associated with cyclones – which increase wind speed over a wide area. These strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from bare, dry soils into the atmosphere, transporting them hundreds to thousands of kilometres away. Some 40% of aerosols in the troposphere (the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere) are dust particles from wind erosion.
The World Meteorological Organization, as the successor of the International Meteorological Organization, created in 1873, has its fundamental mission to support the countries of the world in providing meteorological and hydrological services to protect life and property from natural disasters related to weather, climate and water, to safeguard the environment, and to contribute to sustainable development.