Dust Transport Application (DTA)
Dust storms throughout Sahara Africa, the Middle East and Asia are estimated to place between 200-5000 million metric tons of mineral dust into the earth's atmosphere each year. Dust storms directly affect visibility and impact daily commercial and military operations near desert regions. There is a need for a dust forecasting model with a 72-hour forecast capability.
Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have developed The Dust Transport Application which is a set of software routines for forecasting dust storms. The model assimilates weather input data from several standard meteorological models such as MM5 to make up to 72-hour forecasts of dust aerosol concentrations, visibility and dust loading. The model uses a global dust source database, developed by Dr. Paul Ginoux (NOAA/CFDL), and an aerosol transport model based on the Community Aerosol Research Model for Atmospheres (CARMA), originally developed at NASA Ames, and modified by University of Colorado, Boulder, PAOS Group. This model was further modified by JHU-APL to use U.S. Airforce Weather Agency (AFWA) MM5 forecast data, and made to run automatically to generate daily dust forecasts for several mesoscale theaters (Africa, Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Asia). The DTA model uses PERL scripts and IDL routines developed by JHU-APL to extract weather data from MM5 weather files. The dust model has the option to use AGRMET soil moisture data for more accurate forecasting. The input weather data is formatted into NetCDF files for input to the CARMA model. The model calculates the amount of surface dust flux at each grid location, and includes routines to calculate lofting, transport and deposition of dust. The output data provides the atmospheric concentrations of mineral dust, including estimates, the surface visibility, and total dust loading. A set of IDL graphics routines automatically generates color maps of dust concentrations, loading, visibility, and vertical cross-sections or slices of dust concentration. The user may also generate animated movies of any of the output maps.
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