Tempestuous winds have been intensifying since the mid-1800s, carrying more dust from Earth’s deserts into our air. Now, new data reveals this uptick has masked up to 8 percent of global warming. Using satellite data and ground measurements, a study detected a 55 percent increase in these microscopic airborne particles since 1850. By reflecting sunlight and disrupting heat-trapping clouds, they have a cooling effect, hiding the true extent of climate change. This would have decreased warming by around 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning current warming would be 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) without the dust. Higher wind speeds, drier soils, and changes in human land use all affect the amount of desert dust in the atmosphere. Some of this dust falls into the oceans, providing nutrients to plankton that draw down carbon. This cycle has yet to be factored into climate models, and it is unclear whether dust levels will increase or decrease in the future. Adding this increase to climate models will improve predictions and help us better mitigate and adapt to climate change. This research was published in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment.