Billions of tons of dust blow off of arid lands every year — and blow around the world. These dust storms make people sick, they kill coral reefs and they melt mountain snow packs.
In the Southwestern United States, dust storms are largely the result of tires and hooves, which are destroying natural biological barriers that once kept dust on the ground. But there are people studying, and trying to protect, the layer that can protect the planet from dust storms.
Jayne Belnap is one of those people. She's an ecologist, and you might call her Doctor Dust. She works for the U.S. Geological Survey in Moab, Utah. Recently, she gave Colorado dust researcher Thomas Painter a tour of the red-rock desert she calls home.