Identifying Blowing Dust Sources in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, USA using MODIS Imagery.

Jeff Lee 1, Tarek Kandakji1, Junran Li2, Thomas Gill3
1Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA, 2University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, 3University of Texas, El Paso, El Paso, Texas, USA

This project is part of a larger effort to identify and characterize wind erosion sources in parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, USA in order to reduce highway traffic hazards from blowing dust. The region ranges from semi-arid to arid and land use primarily is farming and rangeland. To locate dust sources, the first step was to search weather records from fifteen stations from 2000 to 2015 for days with blowing dust. Then, MODIS images were viewed for those days to see if blowing dust can be seen. If dust is visible, then a supervised classification was performed to help distinguish dust from clouds. The enhancement technique separated the dust plume from the clouds and land surface, leading to a more accurate detection of dust sources. The upwind source of each point was located and latitude and longitude was stored in a GIS. Identifying sources of wind erosion is the first step in characterizing erodible surfaces and in planning mitigation efforts. As found by Lee et al. (2012), most sources in the region are points (at MODIS scales) and primarily are located on farm land, dry saline lake surfaces, and rangeland.