Southwest Geographic Science Team

:: Dust Detection

Dust Detection

Suitability of Satellite Imaging to Detect Dust Emissions

One objective of this project was to determine the location, size, frequency, duration, and transport patterns of dust storms in the  southwestern United States. To detect and monitor dust emissions, we have employed both low- and high-temporal resolution  digital images collected by satellite and long-term ground-based  digital camera stations, along with wind data at multiple sites. Results of this work will help in the development of  models that better predict how climate variability and change influence dust emissions. Various factors make satellite imaging of dust-storms problematic and a basic summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform can be examined here: Satellite Data Comparison Chart

GOES Satellite Thermal Band Image

See the catalog of recorded Dust Events

Wind-induced dust emission from sources in the southwestern United States is not a major contributor to global dust flux, but it is important on a local and regional scale because of its effects on air quality, human health and safety, and on ecosystem function, through the depletion or addition of soil nutrients and influence snow melt timing and water cycle.

We are studying how to integrate multiple methodologies and technologies to detect dust events, assess wind-erosion potential, and forecast dust emissions.

Since 1999, high-temporal resolution digital images collected by satellite and ground-based automated digital camera stations have been used to detect and study dust storms across the arid southwest.

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