Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (4): 548-560    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0100-4
Orginal Article     
Wind tunnel experiments on dust emissions from different landform types
Wei WU1,2, Ping YAN1,2,*(), Yong WANG1,2, Miao DONG1,2, Xiaonan MENG1,2, Xinran JI1,2
1 Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Download: HTML     PDF(673KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


The measurement and assessment of dust emissions from different landforms are important to understand the atmospheric loading of PM10 (particulate matter≤10 μm aerodynamic diameter) and to assess natural sources of dust; however, the methodology and technique for determining the dust still present significant research challenges. In the past, specialized field observation and field wind tunnel studies have been used to understand the dust emission. A series of wind tunnel tests were carried out to identify natural sources of dust and measure the magnitudes of dust emissions from different landforms. The method used in this study allowed the measurement of the PM10 emission rate using a laboratory based environmental boundary layer wind tunnel. Results indicated that PM10 emissions demonstrated strong temporal variation and were primarily driven by aerodynamic entrainment. Sand dunes, playa, and alluvial fans had the largest dust emission rates (0.8-5.4 mg/(m2?s)) while sandy gravel, Gobi desert and abandoned lands had the lowest emission rates (0.003-0.126 mg/(m2?s)). Dust emissions were heavily dependent on the surface conditions, especially the availability of loose surface dust. High dust emissions were a result of the availability of dust-particle materials for entrainment while low dust emissions were a result of surface crusts and gravel cover. Soil surface property (surface crusts and gravel cover) plays an important role in controlling the availability of dust-sized particles for entrainment. The dust emission rate depended not only on the surface conditions but also on the friction velocity. The emission rate of PM10 varies as a power function of the friction velocity. Although dynamic abrasion processes have a strong influence on the amount of dust entrainment, aerodynamic entrainment may provide an important mechanism for dust emissions. Large volumes of dust entrained by aerodynamic entrainment cannot only occur at low shear velocity without saltation, but may dominate the entrainment process in many arid and semi-arid environments. So it may also be responsible for large magnitude dust storms. Playa and alluvial fan landforms, prior to developing a surface crust, may be the main sources of dust storms in Qinghai Province.

Key wordsemission rates      PM10      fugitive dust      landforms      wind tunnel      dust dynamics     
Received: 21 June 2017      Published: 10 August 2018
Corresponding Authors:
Cite this article:

Wei WU, Ping YAN, Yong WANG, Miao DONG, Xiaonan MENG, Xinran JI. Wind tunnel experiments on dust emissions from different landform types. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 548-560.

URL:     OR

[1] Alfaro S C, Rajot J L, Nickling W.2004. Estimation of PM20 emissions by wind erosion: main sources of uncertainties. Geomorphology, 59(1-4): 63-74.
[2] Avila A, Alarcon M, Queralt I.1998. The chemical composition of dust transported in red rains—its contribution to the biogeochemical cycle of a holm oak forest in Catalonia (Spain). Atmospheric Environment, 32(97): 179-191.
[3] Biamah E K.2005. Coping with Drought: Options for Soil and Water Management in Semi-Arid Kenya. Wageningen: Wageningen University and Research, 159-164.
[4] Bryant R G.2003. Monitoring hydrological controls on dust emissions: preliminary observations from Etosha Pan, Namibia. Geographical Journal, 169(2): 131-141.
[5] Bullard J E, Harrison S P, Baddock M C, et al.2011. Preferential dust sources: A geomorphological classification designed for use in global dust-cycle models. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 116(F4): 4034.
[6] Chen W N, Dong Z B, Li Z S, et al.1996. Wind tunnel test of the influence of moisture on the erodibility of loessial sandy loam soils by wind. Journal of Arid Environments, 34(4): 391-402.
[7] Chin M, Diehl T, Ginoux P, et al.2007. Intercontinental transport of pollution and dust aerosols: implications for regional air quality. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7(21): 5501-5517.
[8] Dong Z B, Sun H Y, Zhao A G.2004. WITSEG sampler: a segmented sand sampler for wind tunnel test. Geomorphology, 59(1-4): 119-129.
[9] Eckardt F D, Kuring N.2005. SeaWiFS identifies dust sources in the Namib Desert. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 26(19): 4159-4167.
[10] Etyemezian V, Nikolich G, Ahonen S, et al.2007. The Portable in Situ Wind Erosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL): A new method to measure PM10 windblown dust properties and potential for emissions. Atmospheric Environment, 41(18): 3789-3796.
[11] Funk R, Reuter H I, Hoffmann C, et al.2008. Effect of moisture on fine dust emission from tillage operations on agricultural soils. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 33(12): 1851-1863.
[12] Gill T E.1996. Eolian sediments generated by anthropogenic disturbance of playas: human impacts on the geomorphic system and geomorphic impacts on the human system. Geomorphology, 17(1-3): 207-228.
[13] Gillette D A, Passi R.1988. Modeling dust emission caused by wind erosion. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 93(D11): 14233-14242.
[14] Ginoux P, Prospero J M, Gill T E, et al.2012. Global-scale attribution of anthropogenic and natural dust sources and their emission rates based on MODIS Deep Blue aerosol products. Reviews of Geophysics, 50(3): 3005.
[15] Goossens D, Offer Z Y.2000. Wind tunnel and field calibration of six aeolian dust samplers. Atmospheric Environment, 34(7): 1043-1057.
[16] Goudie A, Middleton N J.2001. Saharan dust storms: nature and consequences. Earth-Science Reviews, 56(1-4): 179-204.
[17] Goudie A, Middleton N J.2006. Desert Dust in the Global System. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer, 156-164.
[18] Hahnenberger M, Nicoll K.2014. Geomorphic and land cover identification of dust sources in the eastern Great Basin of Utah, U.S.A. Geomorphology, 204: 657-672.
[19] Harrison S P, Kohfeld K E, Roelandt C, et al.2001. The role of dust in climate changes today, at the last glacial maximum and in the future. Earth-Science Reviews, 54(1-3): 43-80.
[20] Houser C A, Nickling W G.2001. The emission and vertical flux of particulate matter <10 μm from a disturbed clay-crusted surface. Sedimentology, 48(2): 255-267.
[21] Jickells T D, An Z S, Andersen K K, et al.2005. Global iron connections between desert dust, ocean biogeochemistry, and climate. Science, 308(5718): 67-71.
[22] Katra I, Lancaster N.2008. Surface-sediment dynamics in a dust source from spaceborne multispectral thermal infrared data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(7): 3212-3221.
[23] Kohfeld K E, Reynolds R L, Pelletier J D, et al.2005. Linking the scales of observation, process, and modeling of dust emissions. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 86(11): 113.
[24] Koven C D, Fung I.2008. Identifying global dust source areas using high-resolution land surface form. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 113(D22): 1971-1976.
[25] Lequy E, Legout A, Conil S, et al.2013. Aeolian dust deposition rates in Northern French forests and inputs to their biogeochemical cycles. Atmospheric Environment, 80: 281-289.
[26] Leys J F, Raupach M R.1991. Soil flux measurements using a portable wind erosion tunnel. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 29(4): 533-552.
[27] Leys J F, McTainsh G H.1999. Dust and nutrient deposition to riverine environments of south-eastern Australia. Sairaanhoitaja, 46: 59-76.
[28] Loosmore G A, Hunt J R.2000. Dust resuspension without saltation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 105(D16): 20663-20671.
[29] Lu H, Shao Y P.1999. A new model for dust emission by saltation bombardment. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 104(D14): 16827-16842.
[30] Macpherson T, Nickling W G, Gillies J A, et al.2008. Dust emissions from undisturbed and disturbed supply-limited desert surfaces. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 113(F2): 205-208.
[31] Mahowald N M, Kloster S, Engelstaedter S, et al.2010. Observed 20th century desert dust variability: impact on climate and biogeochemistry. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 10(22): 10875-10893.
[32] Marticorena B, Bergametti G.1995. Modeling the atmospheric dust cycle: 1. Design of a soil-derived dust emission scheme. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 100(D8): 16415-16430.
[33] Miller R L, Tegen I, Perlwitz J.2004. Surface radiative forcing by soil dust aerosols and the hydrologic cycle. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 109(D4): 361-375.
[34] Milton S F, Greed G, Brooks M E, et al.2008. Modeled and observed atmospheric radiation balance during the West African dry season: Role of mineral dust, biomass burning aerosol, and surface albedo. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 113(D23): 3614.
[35] Neff J C, Reynolds R L, Farmer G L, et al.2007. The changing role of dust in biogeochemical cycling. In: AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. Washington: AGU. V13F-01
[36] Nickling W G, Gillies J A.1993. Dust emission and transport in Mali, West Africa. Sedimentology, 40(5): 859-868.
[37] Nickling W G, Neuman C M.1997. Wind tunnel evaluation of a wedge-shaped aeolian sediment trap. Geomorphology, 18(3-4): 333-335.
[38] Okin G S, Mahowald N, Chadwick O A, et al.2004. Impact of desert dust on the biogeochemistry of phosphorus in terrestrial ecosystems. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 18(2): 649-655.
[39] Okin G S.2005. Dependence of wind erosion and dust emission on surface heterogeneity: Stochastic modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 110(D11): 1371-1380.
[40] Prospero J M.1999. Long-term measurements of the transport of African mineral dust to the southeastern United States: Implications for regional air quality. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 104(D13): 15917-15927.
[41] Prospero J M, Ginoux P, Torres O, et al.2002. Environmental characterization of global, sources of atmospheric soil dust, identified with the nimbus 7 total ozone, mapping spectrometer, (toms) absorbing aerosol product. Reviews of Geophysics, 40(1), 2011-2024.
[42] Reheis M C, Budahn J R, Lamothe P J.2002. Geochemical evidence for diversity of dust sources in the southwestern United States. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 66(9): 1569-1587.
[43] Reheis M C.2006. A 16-year record of aeolian dust in Southern Nevada and California, USA: Controls on dust generation and accumulation. Journal of Arid Environments, 67(3): 487-520.
[44] Roney J A, White B R.2004. Definition and measurement of dust Aeolian thresholds. Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface, 109(F1): 165-282.
[45] Roney J A, White B R.2006. Estimating fugitive dust emission rates using an environmental boundary layer wind tunnel. Atmospheric Environment, 40(40): 7668-7685.
[46] Sassen K, DeMott P J, Prospero J M, et al.2003. Saharan dust storms and indirect aerosol effects on clouds: CRYSTAL-FACE results. Geophysical Research Letters, 30(12): 276-286.
[47] Shao Y, Raupach M R, Findlater P A.1993. Effect of saltation bombardment on the entrainment of dust by wind. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 98(D7): 12719-12726.
[48] Shao Y P.2001. A model for mineral dust emission. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 106(D17): 20239-20254.
[49] Slingo A, Ackerman T P, Allan R P, et al.2006. Observations of the impact of a major Saharan dust storm on the atmospheric radiation balance. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(24): 409-421.
[50] Smith J L, Lee K.2003. Soil as a source of dust and implications for human health. Advances in Agronomy, 80: 1-32.
[51] Solomon S, Plattner G K, Knutti R, et al.2009. Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(6): 1704-1709.
[52] Sun J M, Zhang M Y, Liu T S.2001. Spatial and temporal characteristics of dust storms in China and its surrounding regions, 1960-1999: Relations to source area and climate. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 106(D10): 10325-10333.
[53] Swap R, Garstang M, Greco S, et al.1992. Saharan dust in the Amazon Basin. Tellus B, 44(2): 133-149.
[54] Sweeney M R, McDonald E V, Etyemezian V.2011. Quantifying dust emissions from desert landforms, eastern Mojave Desert, USA. Geomorphology, 135(1-2): 21-34.
[55] Tan M H.2016. Exploring the relationship between vegetation and dust-storm intensity (DSI) in China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 26(4): 387-396.
[56] Tegen I, Lacis A A.1996. Modeling of particle size distribution and its influence on the radiative properties of mineral dust aerosol. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 101(D14): 19237-19244.
[57] Tegen I, Werner M, Harrison S P, et al.2004. Relative importance of climate and land use in determining present and future global soil dust emission. Geophysical Research Letters, 31(5): 19-105.
[58] Wang X M, Dong Z B, Zhang J W, et al.2004. Modern dust storms in China: an overview. Journal of Arid Environments, 58(4): 559-574.
[59] Wang X M, Xia D S, Wang T, et al.2008. Dust sources in arid and semiarid China and southern Mongolia: impacts of geomorphological setting and surface materials. Geomorphology, 97(3-4): 583-600.
[60] Washington R, Todd M, Middleton N J, et al.2003. Dust-storm source areas determined by the total ozone monitoring spectrometer and surface observations. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93(2): 297-313.
[61] Webb N P, Strong C L.2011. Soil erodibility dynamics and its representation for wind erosion and dust emission models. Aeolian Research, 3(2): 165-179.
[62] Wiggs G F S, Livingstone I, Warren A.1996. The role of streamline curvature in sand dune dynamics: evidence from field and wind tunnel measurements. Geomorphology, 17(1-3): 29-46.
[63] Xuan J, Sokolik I N, Hao J F, et al.2004. Identification and characterization of sources of atmospheric mineral dust in East Asia. Atmospheric Environment, 38(36): 6239-6252.
[64] Zender C S, Newman D, Torres O, 2003a. Spatial heterogeneity in aeolian erodibility: Uniform, topographic, geomorphic, and hydrologic hypotheses. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108(D17): 4543.
[65] Zender C S, Bian H, Newman D.2003b. Mineral Dust Entrainment and Deposition (DEAD) model: Description and 1990s dust climatology. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108(D14): 269-282.
[66] Zhang B L, Tsunekawa A, Tsubo M.2008. Contributions of sandy lands and stony deserts to long-distance dust emission in China and Mongolia during 2000-2006. Global and Planetary Change, 60(3-4): 487-504.
[67] Zhang C L, Zou X Y, Yang P, et al.2007. Wind tunnel test and 137Cs tracing study on wind erosion of several soils in Tibet. Soil and Tillage Research, 94(2): 269-282.
[1] LIU Dongwei, HAN Lijing, KOU Zihan, GAO Xinyu, WANG Jingjing. Exploration of playa surface crusts in Qehan Lake, China through field investigation and wind tunnel experiments[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(5): 491-507.
[2] GAO Li, CHENG Jianjun, WANG Haifeng, YUAN Xinxin. Effects of different types of guardrails on sand transportation of desert highway pavement[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(9): 993-1008.
[3] YAN Ping, WANG Xiaoxu, ZHENG Shucheng, WANG Yong, LI Xiaomei. Research on wind erosion processes and controlling factors based on wind tunnel test and 3D laser scanning technology[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(9): 1009-1021.
[4] ZHANG Chunlai, WANG Xuesong, CEN Songbo, ZHENG Zhongquan Charlie, WANG Zhenting. Separating emitted dust from the total suspension in airflow based on the characteristics of PM10 vertical concentration profiles on a Gobi surface in northwestern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(6): 589-603.
[5] CHEN Zongyan, XIAO Fengjun, DONG Zhibao. Fetch effect on the developmental process of aeolian sand transport in a wind tunnel[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 436-446.
[6] WANG Cui, LI Shengyu, LEI Jiaqiang, LI Zhinong, CHEN Jie. Effect of the W-beam central guardrails on wind-blown sand deposition on desert expressways in sandy regions[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(1): 154-165.
[7] Yang ZHANG, Min LI, Yuan WANG, Bin YANG. Reinvestigation of the scaling law of the windblown sand launch velocity with a wind tunnel experiment[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(5): 664-673.
[8] Ling NAN, Zhibao DONG, Weiqiang XIAO, Chao LI, Nan XIAO, Shaopeng SONG, Fengjun XIAO, Lingtong DU. A field investigation of wind erosion in the farming-pastoral ecotone of northern China using a portable wind tunnel: a case study in Yanchi County[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(1): 27-38.
[9] Tao WANG, Jianjun QU, Yuquan LING, Shengbo XIE, Jianhua XIAO. Wind tunnel test on the effect of metal net fences on sand flux in a Gobi Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(6): 888-899.
[10] Yang ZHANG, Yuan WANG, Xiaosi ZHOU, Bin YANG. Evolution of crescent-shaped sand dune under the influence of injected sand flux: scaling law and wind tunnel experiment[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(2): 270-277.
[11] JianHua XIAO, JianJun QU, ZhengYi YAO, YingJun PANG KeCun ZHANG. Morphology and formation mechanism of sand shadow dunes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(1): 10-26.