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DUSTRAN - A GIS-based dust dispersion modeling system

DUSTRAN System Overview

Activities at U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) training and testing ranges can be sources of dust into local and regional airsheds governed by air quality regulations. Activities that could disturb the soil surface, and thus generate dust, include vehicle and troop maneuvers, convoy movement, helicopter activities, munitions impacts, roadway preparations, and wind erosion. Other sources of particulates include smokes and obscurants, controlled burns, and engine operations.

From January 2001 through August 2006, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), carried out a multi-year research project funded primarily by DoD's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to develop an atmospheric dispersion modeling system to assist the DoD in addressing particulate air quality issues at military training and testing ranges. The culmination of that work was the development of the DUST TRANsport, or DUSTRAN, modeling system V1.0 (Allwine et al. 2006). DUSTRAN V1.0 functioned as a console application within the ArcMap Geographic Information system (GIS) and included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved CALPUFF dispersion model for modeling active sources of dust emissions from military vehicular activities and the widely used CALGRID dispersion model for modeling wind-blown dust generation. Source terms for vehicular and wind-blown dust are both native to the DUSTRAN modeling system.

In 2010, SERDP funded additional development of DUSTRAN to 1) replace the GIS platform with open-source GIS software called MapWindow; 2) enable user profiles to allow multiple users to run individual simulations using separate sites; 3) add the EPA's AERMOD air-dispersion model for modeling near-field (less than 50 km) releases; and 4) update the vehicular dust source-term module to include additional vehicle and soil types, as well as enhanced formulations for particle deposition. The culmination of this work is the DUSTRAN V2.0 modeling system. Unless otherwise indicated, subsequent references to "DUSTRAN" in this document refer to DUSTRAN V2.0.

Example of the DUSTRAN GIS-based user interface (click image to enlarge).
Example of the DUSTRAN GIS-based user interface (click image to enlarge).

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) and U.S. EPA have also provided funds towards developing the atmospheric modeling system. The FS and the EPA need to address issues related to the off-target drift of aerially applied pesticides and consequently have funded a portion of the development program for the modeling-system user interface and funded wholly the development of a separate pesticide-source-term module. The result of this work led to the development of the Spray TRANsport, or SPRAYTRAN, modeling system, which is used to assess the off-target drift of aerially applied pesticides.

The primary objectives in formulating DUSTRAN have been to 1) identify and construct the system from widely available, scientifically defensible models and model components; 2) couple and integrate the models within a user-friendly, open-source GIS interface; 3) develop and implement an advanced dust-emission model into the modeling system; and 4) document the system through technical articles and a supporting user's guide. This user's guide supports that final objective.

The primary components of DUSTRAN include:

  • The MapWindow GIS interface, which allows the user to launch the DUSTRAN console application, view model data layers, and navigate (e.g., zoom, pan) the model domain.
  • The DUSTRAN console for entering user inputs, including the model domain, release period, sources, and meteorology and selecting model output display options.
  • The dust-emissions modules for estimating active and wind-blown dust-emission rates as a function of time and location.
  • The atmospheric dispersion models for estimating near-field (AERMOD) or far-field (CALPUFF and CALGRID) dust concentrations and deposition patterns.

This website is intended to provide a brief overview of the DUSTRAN modeling system. Questions or requests for additional information can be sent to the contributing staff via