Dusty Wild West blamed on early settlers

The American west’s dusty portrayal in movies and literature is no exaggeration – after the first settlers arrived, dust levels in the region soared. Jason Neff of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues studied sediment samples from two lakes in Colorado’s San Juan mountains. They found atmospheric dust levels in the area jumped fivefold around 150 years ago, and have remained at that level ever since. The team reckons the advent of large-scale agriculture and railway building must have kicked up the dust (Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo133). “Looking at their data, it’s almost like a switch was flipped,
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