Application of satellite remote sensing for estimation of dust emission probability in the Urmia lake basin in Iran

Mohaddese Effati, Hossien Ali Bahrami, Mohammad Gohardoust, Ebrahim Babaeian, Markus Tuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Saline playas in arid and semiarid regions of the world are significant sources of unconsolidated sediments susceptible to aeolian transport. Lake Urmia in Iran, one of the largest saltwater lakes on Earth, has waned to approximately 18% of its original size due to groundwater pumping and surface water diversions. This has led to ecosystem degradation, accelerated desertification and frequent dust storms, causing public health problems. In this paper we introduce a new framework for delineation of dust source zones and estimation of dust occurrence probability based on remotely sensed land surface properties (soil moisture and vegetation cover), soil texture, wind speed, and measured dust frequencies. Observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for the Urmia Lake basin were utilized to determine the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and to estimate surface soil moisture with a recently introduced optical trapezoid model. The soil textures extracted from the SoilGrids database and wind speeds obtained from local weather stations together with the estimated surface soil moisture were found to be highly correlated with dust emission probability. When the surface soil moisture is low, wind speed is the major determinant for dust occurrence. With increasing surface soil moisture, the dust occurrence probability decreases. Soil moisture effects are more pronounced at high wind speeds. While at low wind speeds the dust occurrence probabilities for the investigated soil textures loam, clay loam and sandy clay loam are similar, at higher wind speeds the sandy clay loam texture exhibits the highest susceptibility to dust generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1002
Number of pages10
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer
  • NDVI
  • Normalized difference vegetation index
  • STR
  • Shortwave infrared transformed reflectance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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