Southwest Geographic Science Team

:: Dust Detection

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. 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

Each marker on the map below catalogs known dust storm sources and events we have recorded using various techniques and imaging platforms. Many more events occur which have not been recorded due to poor visibility factors including timing of satellite overpasses, cloud cover, and night time storms. This project highlights the need for a more comprehensive understanding and accounting of dust emissions in the southwest through a dedicated network of in-situ instrumentation such as particulate sensors and automated camera systems.


Click on Markers to see known Dust Events at that location

  • Goes Thermal Bands differenced to Enhance Dust Visibility
  • GOES 11 Thermal Differenced Image ~ 3pm localtime
  • GOES 11 Visible Spectrum Image ~ 5:30pm localtime
  • MODIS afternoon pass ~ 2pm localtime
  • GOES 11 Satellite image of four corners 11am localtime
  • MODIS PM Image ~ 2pm localtime
  • Visibility is greatly reduced during peak of dust storm around 3pm
  • Mid-afternoon Modis Satellite Image of Dust in Northern Mexico, Southern New Mexico
  • GOES Visible Imager 5pm localtime

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