Effect of wind speed and relative humidity on atmospheric dust concentrations in semi-arid climates

Janae Csavina, Jason Field, Omar Félix, Alba Y. Corral-Avitia, A. Eduardo Sáez, Eric A. Betterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Atmospheric particulate have deleterious impacts on human health. Predicting dust and aerosol emission and transport would be helpful to reduce harmful impacts but, despite numerous studies, prediction of dust events and contaminant transport in dust remains challenging. In this work, we show that relative humidity and wind speed are both determinants in atmospheric dust concentration. Observations of atmospheric dust concentrations in Green Valley, AZ, USA, and Juárez, Chihuahua, México, show that PM10 concentrations are not directly correlated with wind speed or relative humidity separately. However, selecting the data for high wind speeds (>4m/s at 10m elevation), a definite trend is observed between dust concentration and relative humidity: dust concentration increases with relative humidity, reaching a maximum around 25% and it subsequently decreases with relative humidity. Models for dust storm forecasting may be improved by utilizing atmospheric humidity and wind speed as main drivers for dust generation and transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014


  • Dust emission
  • Relative humidity
  • Semi-arid
  • Wind speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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