Spatio-Temporal Distribution of Various Types of Dust Events in the Middle East during the Period 1996-2015

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D. Student, Department of Marine and Atmospheric Science (Non-Biologic), Faculty of Marine Science and Technology, University of Hormozgan, Bandarabbas, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Marine and Atmospheric Science (Non-Biologic), Faculty of Marine Science and Technology, University of Hormozgan, Bandarabbas, Iran


In recent years, an increase in the frequency of dust storms in the Middle East has been experienced. Identifying the potential sources of dust is essential to manage the hazardous consequences of dust storms. In addition, the relation between dust events and meteorological factors such as wind speed and horizontal visibility in the Middle East is lacking. The relation between dust events and topographical features such as soil texture in the Middle East is also unclear. In this study, dust events in the Middle East were classified based on horizontal visibility and the present weather reports during the period 1996-2015. Frequencies of different types of dust events, including blowing dust, dust in suspension, dust storm and severe dust storm, were estimated. The average concentrations of dust particles in the Middle East were also estimated based on horizontal visibility. Wind speed makes a critical contribution to dust events in the Middle East, thus wind speeds were also analyzed over the regions with relatively high frequency of dust events. In addition, maps of soil texture, elevation of landforms and the vegetation cover percentage, which have been obtained by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) preprocessing system (WPS), were evaluated. The highest frequency of dust events is observed in five domains, which include Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Dust in suspension has the highest frequency among all types of the dust events studied here, particularly in southeastern Iran and central and eastern Iraq. Seasonal variations in dust event activity are directly related to wind speed, such that the frequency of dust events is the highest in June and July when winds are strongest, and lowest in January when winds are weakest. Maximum dust concentrations are observed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq. The maximal frequency of dust storms in the Middle East occurs in May, June and July. Due to the differences in soil texture, elevation and vegetation cover, the dust emission in the Middle East is characterized by significant spatial heterogeneity. Our numerical analysis shows that sources of dust in the Middle East are mostly topographical lows with heights below 400 m, including sources in Sudan, northeastern and eastern Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. Nevertheless, in the southwestern Arabian Peninsula, the height of sources of dust reaches to approximately 1200-2400 m. The upper surface texture of soil in region A (northeastern Sudan) is loam and sandy loam, in region B (Yemen and the southwestern Arabian Peninsula) is loamy sand and loam, in region C (northeastern Saudi Arabia, eastern Iraq and western Iran) is clay loam and loam, in region D (the UAE) is sand, sandy loam and loam, and in region E (Afghanistan, Pakistan and southeastern Iran) is loam clay and loam. The upper surface texture of soil in areas with the highest dust frequency is sandy loam and clay loam. The spatial distributions of the vegetation cover percentage show a sharp decline (below 1%) in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Central and Southern Iran and Pakistan.


Main Subjects

Alam, K., Trautmann, T., Blaschke, T. and Subhan, F., 2014, Changes in aerosol optical properties due to dust storms in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Remote Sensing of Environment, 143, 216-227.
Ackerman, S.A., 1997, Remote sensing aerosols using satellite infrared observations. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 1997, 102, 17069–17079.
Antón, M., Gil, J.E., Fernández-Gálvez, J., Lyamani, H., Valenzuela, A., Foyo-Moreno, I., Olmo, F.J. and Alados-Arboledas, L., 2011, Evaluation of the aerosol forcing efficiency in the UV erythemal range at Granada, Spain. J. Geophys. Res. 116, D20214,
Barkan, J., Kutiel, H. and Alpert, P., 2004, Climatology of dust sources in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, based on TOMS data. Indoor and Built Environment, 13(6), 407-419.
Boloorani, A.D., Nabavi, S.O., Bahrami, H.A., Mirzapour, F., Kavosi, M., Abasi, E. and Azizi, R., 2014, Investigation of dust storms entering Western Iran using remotely sensed data and synoptic analysis. Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering 12:124. doi: 10.1186/s40201- 014-0124-4.
Cao, H., Amiraslani, F., Liu, J. and Zhou, N., 2015, Identification of dust storm source areas in West Asia using multiple environmental datasets. Science of the Total Environment, 502, 224-235.
De Villiers, M. and van Heerden, J., 2011, Nashi dust storm over the United Arab Emirates. Weather, 66(3), 79-81.
Draxler, R.R., Gillette, D.A., Kirkpatrick, J.S., and Heller, J., 2001, Estimating PM10 air concentrations from dust storms in Iraq. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Atmospheric Environment, 35(25), 4315–4330.
Dukić, V., Hayden, M., Forgor, A.A., Hopson, T., Akweongo, P., Hodgson, A., Monaghan, A., Wiedinmyer, C., Yoksas, T., Thomson, M.C. and Trzaska, S., 2012, The role of weather in meningitis outbreaks in Navrongo, Ghana: a generalized additive modeling approach. Journal of agricultural, biological, and environmental statistics, 17(3), 442-460.
Elwell, H.A. and Stocking M.A., 1976, Vegetal cover to estimate soil erosion hazard in Rhodesia, Geoderma, 15, 61-70.
Escudero, M., Stein, A., Draxler, R.R., Querol, X., Alastuey, A., Castillo, S. and Avila, A., 2006, Determination of the contribution of northern Africa dust source areas to PM10 concentrations over the central Iberian Peninsula using the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model (HYSPLIT) model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 111, D06210.
FAO, 2015, FAOSTAT, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy,
Fengmei, Y. and Chongyi, E., 2010, Correlation analysis between sand-dust events and meteorological factors in Shapotou, Northern China.  Environmental Earth Sciences, 59(6), 1359-1365.
García-Pando, C.P., Stanton, M.C., Diggle, P.J., Trzaska, S., Miller, R.L., Perlwitz, J.P., Baldasano, J.M., Cuevas, E., Ceccato, P., Yaka, P. and Thomson, M.C., 2014, Soil dust aerosols and wind as predictors of seasonal meningitis incidence in Niger. Environ. Health Perspect. 122, 679–686.
Ge, Y., Abuduwaili, J., Ma, L., Wu, N. and Liu, D., 2016, Potential transport pathways of dust emanating from the playa of Ebinur Lake, Xinjiang, in arid northwest China. Atmos. Res. 178, 196–206.
Gharibzadeh, M., Alam, K., Bidokhti, A.A., Abedini, Y. and Masoumi, A., 2017, Radiative effects and optical properties of aerosol during two dust events in 2013 over Zanjan, Iran. Aerosol Air Qual. Res, 17, 888-898.
Goudie, A. and Middleton, N.J., 2006, Desert dust in the global system. Springer Science & Business Media.
Goudie, A.S. and Middleton, N.J., 2001, Saharan dust storms: nature and consequences. Earth-Science Reviews, 56(1-4), 179-204.
Guan, Q., Yang, J., Zhao, S., Pan, B., Liu, C., Zhang, D. and Wu, T., 2015, Climatological analysis of dust storms in the area surrounding the Tengger Desert during 1960–2007. Clim. Dyn. 45, 903–913.
Gupta, R.P., 2005, Remote Sensing Geology, Second ed., Springer International Edition, pp.627.
Hamidi, M., Kavianpour, M.R. and Shao, Y., 2013, Synoptic analysis of dust storms in the Middle East. Asia-Pac. J. Atmos. Sci. 49, 279–286.
Hengl, T., Heuvelink, G.B.M. and Rossiter, D.G., 2007, About regression-Kriging: From equations to case studies, Comput. Geosci., 33, 1301-1315.
Idso, S.B., 1976, Dust storms. Scientific American, 235(4), 108-115.
Irino, T. and Tada, R., 2000, Quantification of aeolian dust (Kosa) contribution to the Japan Sea sediments and its variation during the last 200 ky. Geochemical Journal, 34(1), 59-93.
Jickells, T. and Moore, C.M., 2015, The importance of atmospheric deposition for ocean productivity. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 46, 481–501.
Jickells, T.D., An, Z.S., Andersen, K.K., Baker, A.R., Bergametti, G., Brooks, N., Cao, J.J., Boyd, P.W., Duce, R.A., Hunter, K.A., Kawahata, H., Kubilay, N., laRoche, J., Liss, P. S., Mahowald, N., Prospero, J. M., Ridgwell, A. J., Tegen, I. and Torres, R., 2005, Global iron connections between desert dust, ocean biogeochemistry and climate. Science, 308, 67–71.
Kumar, S., Kumar, S., Kaskaoutis, D.G., Singh, R.P., Singh, R.K., Mishra, A.K., Srivastava, M.K. and Singh, A.K., 2015, Meteorological, atmospheric and climatic perturbations during major dust storms over Indo-Gangetic basin. Aeol. Res. 17, 15–31.
Kurosaki, Y. and Mikami, M., 2003, Recent frequent dust events and their relation to surface wind in East Asia. Geophys. Res. Lett. 30. 2003GL017261.
Kutiel, H. and Furman, H., 2003, Dust storms in the Middle East: sources of origin and their temporal characteristics. Indoor Built Environ. 12, 419–426.
Leys, J.F., Heidenreich, S.K., Strong, C.L., McTainsh, G.H. and Quigley, S., 2011, PM10 concentrations and mass transport during “Red Dawn”–Sydney 23 September 2009. Aeolian Research, 3(3), 327-342.
Lin, J.J., 2002, Characterization of Water-Soluble Ion Species in urban ambient particles. Environ. Int. 28, 55–61.
Martiny, N. and Chiapello, I., 2013, Assessments for the impact of mineral dust on the meningitis incidence in West Africa. Atmos. Environ. 70, 245–253.
Middleton, N.J., 1986, Dust storms in the Middle East. Journal of Arid Environments. 10, 83–96.
Moridnejad, A., Karimi, N. and Ariya, P.A., 2015, Newly desertified regions in Iraq and its surrounding areas: Significant novel sources of global dust particles. Journal of Arid Environments, (116), 1-10.
Orlovsky, N.S., Orlovsky, L. and Indoitu, R., 2013, Severe dust storms in Central Asia. Arid. Ecosyst. 3, 227–234.
Ozdemir, E.T., 2019, Investigations of a Southerly Non-Convective High Wind Event in Turkey and Effects on PM 10 Values: A Case Study on April 18, 2012. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 176(10), 4599-4622.
Ozdemir, E.T., Korkmaz, F.M. and Yavuz, V., 2018, Synoptic analysis of dust storm over Arabian Peninsula: a case study on February 28, 2009. Natural hazards, 92(2), 805-827.
Paramasivam, C.R. and Venkatramanan, S., 2019, GIS and Geostatistical Techniques for Groundwater Science, ch.3: An Introduction to Various Spatial Analysis Techniques, Elsevier, 23-30.
Pope, C.A., 2003, Cardiovascular mortality and long-term exposure to particulate air pollution: epidemiological evidence of general pathophysiological pathways of disease. Circulation 109, 71–77.
Prakash, J., Stenchikov, P., Kalendersk, G., Osipov, S., and Bangalath, H., 2015, The impact of dust storms on the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. 14, 19181–19245.
Prospero, J.M. and Lamb, P.J., 2003, African droughts and dust transport to the Caribbean: Climate change implications. Science, 302(5647): 1024-1027.
Prospero, J.M., Ginoux, P., Torres, O., Nichol-son, S.E. and Gill, T.E., 2002, Environmental characterization of global sources of atmospheric soil dust identified with the NIMBUS 7 total ozone mapping spectrometer (TOMS) absorbing aerosol product. Rev. Geophys. 40 (1), 2–31.
Rashki, A., Arjmand, M. and Kaskaoutis, D.G., 2017, Assessment of dust activity and dust-plume pathways over Jazmurian Basin, southeast Iran. Aeolian Research, 24, 145-160.
Rashki, A., Kaskaoutis, D.G., Francois, P., Kosmopoulos, P.G. and Legrand, M., 2015, Dust-storm dynamics over Sistan region, Iran: seasonality, transport characteristics and affected areas. Aeol. Res. 16, 35–48.
Ravi, S., D'odorico, P., Breshears, D.D., Field, J.P., Goudie, A.S., Huxman, T.E., Li, J., Okin, G.S., Swap, R.J., Thomas, A.D. and Van Pelt, S., 2011, Aeolian processes and the biosphere. Reviews of Geophysics, 49(3).
Rezazadeh, M., Irannejad, P. and Shao, Y., 2013, Climatology of the Middle East dust events. Aeolian Research, 10, 103-109.
Rodriguez, S., Cuevas, E., Prospero, J.M., Alastuey, A., Querol, X., López-Solano, J., García, M.I. and Alonso-Pérez, S., 2015, Modulation of Saharan dust export by the North African dipole. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 15, 7471–7486.
Setianto, A. and Triandini, T., 2013, Comparison of Kriging and inverse distance weighted (IDW) interpolation methods in lineament extraction and analysis. J. Southeast Asian Appl. Geol. 5(1), 21-29.
Shalaby, A., Rappenglueck, B. and Eltahir, E.A.B., 2015, The climatology of dust aerosol over the Arabian peninsula. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, 15(2), 1523-1571.
Shao, Y., 2008, Physics and Modeling of Wind Erosion. Springer, University of Cologne, Germany.
Shao, Y. and Wang, J., 2003, A climatology of northeast Asian dust events. Meteorol. Z. 12 (4), 187–196.
Shao, Y., Wyrwoll, K.H., Chappell, A., Huang, J., Lin, Z., McTainsh, G.H., Mikami, M., Tanaka, T.Y., Wang, X. and Yoon, S., 2011, Dust cycle: An emerging core theme in Earth system science. Aeolian Research, 2(4), 181-204.
Sharifikia, M., 2013, Environmental challenges and drought hazard assessment of Hamoun desert lake in Sistan region, Iran, based on the time series of satellite imagery. Nat. Hazards 65, 201–217.
Solmon, F., Nair, V.S. and Mallet, M., 2015, Increasing Arabian dust activity and the Indian Summer Monsoon. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 15, 8051–8064.
Tan, S.C., Shi, G.Y. and Wang, H., 2012, Long-range transport of spring dust storms in Inner Mongolia and impact on the China seas. Atmos. Environ. 46, 299–308.
Valenzuela, A., Olmo, F.J., Lyamani, H., Antón, M., Titos, G., Cazorla, A. and Alados- Arboledas, L., 2015, Aerosol scattering and absorption Angström exponents as indicators of dust and dust-free days over Granada (Spain). Atmos. Res. 154, 1–13.
Wang, Y. Q., Zhang, X. Y., Gong, S. L., Zhou, C. H., Hu, X. Q., Liu, H. L., Niu, T. and Yang, Y. Q., 2008, Surface observation of sand and dust storm in East Asia and its application in CUACE/Dust. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 8(3), 545–553.
Xi, X. and Sokolik, I.N., 2016, Quantifying the anthropogenic dust emission from agricultural land use and desiccation of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 121(20).
Yassin, M.F., Almutairi, S.K. and Al-Hemoud, A., 2018, Dust storms backward Trajectories' and source identification over Kuwait. Atmospheric research, 212, 158-171.