Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Identification of sand and dust storm source areas in Iran


Sand and dust storms (SDS) are common phenomena in arid and semi-arid areas. In recent years, SDS frequencies and intensities have increased significantly in Iran. A research on SDS sources is important for understanding the mechanisms of dust generation and assessing its socio-economic and environmental impacts. In this paper, we developed a new approach to identify SDS source areas in Iran using a combination of nine related datasets, namely drought events, temperature, precipitation, location of sandy soils, SDS frequency, human-induced soil degradation (HISD), human influence index (HII), rain use efficiency (RUE) and net primary productivity (NPP) loss. To identify SDS source areas, we firstly normalized these datasets under uniform criteria including layer reprojection using Lambert conformal conic projection, data conversion from shapefile to raster, Min-Max Normalization with data range from 0 to 1, and data interpolation by Kriging and images resampling (resolution of 1 km). After that, a score map for the possibility of SDS sources was generated through overlaying multiple datasets under average weight allocation criterion, in which each item obtained weight equally. In the score map, the higher the score, the more possible a specific area could be regarded as SDS source area. Exceptions mostly came from large cities, like Tehran and Isfahan. As a result, final SDS source areas were mapped out, and Al-Howizeh/Al-Azim marshes and Sistan Basin were identified as main SDS source areas in Iran. The SDS source area in Al-Howizeh/Al-Azim marshes still keeps expanding. In addition, Al-Howizeh/Al-Azim marshes are now suffering rapid land degradation due to natural and human-induced factors and might totally vanish in the near future. Sistan Basin also demonstrates the impacts of soil degradation and wind erosion. With appropriate intensity, duration, wind speed and altitude of the dust storms, sand particles uplifting from this area might have developed into extreme dust storms, especially during the summer.


sand and dust storm; weight allocation criterion; Kriging interpolation; score map; Al-Howizeh/Al-Azim marshes; Sistan Basin

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