A combined modeling and measurement technique for estimating wind-blown dust emissions at Owens (dry) Lake, CA

TitleA combined modeling and measurement technique for estimating wind-blown dust emissions at Owens (dry) Lake, CA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsGillette D.A, Ono D., Richmond K.
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Date Published2004
ISBN NumberF01003, doi:10.1029/2003JF000025
Accession NumberJRN00403
Call Number00830
Keywordsaeolian processes, dust emissions, aeolian processes, Owen Lake, article, articles, journal, journals, model, dust emission, wind transport, Owens Lake

The problem of dust emissions from playa sources is an important one both in terms of human health and in terms of global dust issues, distribution of loess, and mineral cycling. A refined method of modeling atmospheric dust concentrations due to wind erosion was developed using real‐time saltation flux measurements and ambient dust monitoring data at Owens Lake, California. This modeling method may have practical applications for modeling the atmospheric effects of wind erosion in other areas. Windblown dust from the Owens Lake bed often causes violations of federal air quality standards for particulate matter (PM10) that are the highest levels measured in the United States. The goal of this study was to locate dust source areas on the exposed lake bed, estimate their PM10 emissions, and use air pollution modeling techniques to determine which areas caused or contributed to air quality violations. Previous research indicates that the vertical flux of PM10 (Fa) is generally proportional to the total horizontal saltation flux (q) for a given soil texture and surface condition. For this study, hourly PM10 emissions were estimated using Fa = K′ × m15, where m15 is the measured sand flux at 15 cm above the surface, and K′ was derived empirically by comparing air quality model predictions to monitored PM10 concentrations. Hourly sand flux was measured at 135 sites (1 km spacing) on the lake bed, and PM10 was monitored at six off‐lake sites for a 30 month period. K′ was found to change spatially and temporally over the sampling period. These changes appeared to be linked to different soil textures and to seasonal surface changes. K′ values compared favorably with other Fa/q values measured at Owens Lake using portable wind tunnel and micrometeorological methods. Hourly trends for the model‐predicted PM10 concentrations agreed well with monitored PM10 concentrations. Dust production was estimated at 7.2 × 104 t of PM10 for a 12 month period. A single storm accounted for 9% of the annual dust emissions at 6.5 × 103 t. The modeling results were used to identify 77 km2 of dust‐producing areas on the lake bed that will be controlled to attain the federal air quality standard for PM10.

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