Identification of dust storm source areas in West Asia using multiple environmental datasets

Hui Cao, Farshad Amiraslani, Jian Liu, Na Zhou

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133 Citations (Scopus)


Sand and Dust storms are common phenomena in arid and semi-arid areas. West Asia Region, especially Tigris-Euphrates alluvial plain, has been recognized as one of the most important dust source areas in the world. In this paper, a method is applied to extract SDS (Sand and Dust Storms) sources in West Asia region using thematic maps, climate and geography, HYSPLIT model and satellite images. Out of 50 dust storms happened during 2000-2013 and collected in form of MODIS images, 27 events were incorporated as demonstrations of the simulated trajectories by HYSPLIT model. Besides, a dataset of the newly released Landsat images was used as base-map for the interpretation of SDS source regions. As a result, six main clusters were recognized as dust source areas. Of which, 3 clusters situated in Tigris-Euphrates plain were identified as severe SDS sources (including 70% dust storms in this research). Another cluster in Sistan plain is also a potential source area. This approach also confirmed six main paths causing dust storms. These paths are driven by the climate system including Siberian and Polar anticyclones, monsoon from Indian Subcontinent and depression from north of Africa. The identification of SDS source areas and paths will improve our understandings on the mechanisms and impacts of dust storms on socio-economy and environment of the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-235
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is funded by the Small Scale Funding Agreement (UNEP/ROWA) . The first author appreciates Dr Yongdong Wang from Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences for the great and valuable help in data collection. Farshad Amiraslani acknowledges the University of Tehran for providing a six-month Research Leave Grant (# 171/122133; 1392/6/4 ). His research was also supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Fellowship for Researchers from Developing Countries (Grant # 2013FFZA0013 ) during the visiting period at UNEP-IEMP. The authors are also grateful to NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the support of HYSPLIT online model.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • HYSPLIT model
  • Landsat 8
  • MODIS satellite images
  • SDS source


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