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Old 04-14-2010   #11
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 103
Use the google, get some facts...

Seems a little premature to blame OHVs and oil/gas development exclusively. See below.
Colorado Alpine Dust Deposition and Associated Continental Winds
Morgan Phillips, Colorado Climate Center and Bureau of Land Management

Abstract. The winter and early spring of 2008-2009 brought an unusually high number of alpine dust deposition events to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The greatest dust accumulations were observed in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Significant dust accumulation was even observed along the Continental Divide in northern Colorado. The primary source for this dust has previously been identified as the Colorado Plateau. Analysis using the HYSPLIT(Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory) atmospheric trajectory model along with satellite imagery showed that dust from the 2009 events also originated from the Colorado Plateau, especially from areas in and around northeastern Arizona that were experiencing drought conditions this spring.

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Old 04-14-2010   #12
Breckenridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
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Lots of sources for the dust events we've had over the last few years. Everything from China to the Colorado Plateau. Overgrazing and drought are the big ones by far, but road building and other soil disturbance for the oil and gas industry as well as unregulated, irresponsible OHV use are contributors too. All this is fairly well studied.

Remember the big I-70 pileup near Grand Junction years ago? It was caused by a localized dust storm that originated from the big OHV play are near the highway. I've driven by that area when it's windy and the dust is blowing several times so I have no doubt that desertification (loss of plant cover and soil pulverization) due to OHV use is not on the same scale as overgrazing from a large scale landscape point of view, but it's nothing to be poo-pooed either.

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Old 04-15-2010   #13
The next zone, .
Join Date: Oct 2003
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"according to David Garbett, staff attorney with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance." Maybe he has other motives here maybe not just sayin ..

I think that I will trust the opinion of Russ Schnell the director of observatory ops at NOAA (national oceanic and atmospheric adminstration) or that of NASA over that of a random wilderness attorney......

So here is another take and a pic of dust movin over Paige Az....

Here is dust as it came over the Grand Canyon...

Another pic as the dust is headin out of China..

Interesting Facts..
  • Wind blown dust originating from the arid deserts of Mongolia and China is a well-known springtime meteorological phenomenon throughout East Asia. In fact, "yellow sand" meteorological conditions are sufficiently common to have acquired local names: Huangsha in China, Whangsa in Korea, and Kosa in Japan.
  • Suspended clouds of Asian dust can move across the Pacific in elevated layers (3-11 km agl) and can reach the U.S. in as little as 4-6 days.
  • The dust clouds finally dissipate when the particles are removed from the atmosphere by dry and wet removal processes. Gravitational settling of large particles (>10 m m) occurs near the source within the first day of transport. Wet removal occurs sporadically throughout the 5-10 day lifetime of the remaining smaller size dust particles.

More on the dust...

Scripps Howard News Service

- Poor farming practices, population pressures and drought are intensifying dust storms in China that some scientists and environmentalists believe may ultimately pose a significant pollution problem for the United States.
The situation gained dramatic attention in April when a giant Chinese dust storm tracked by weather satellites invaded North America, raining dust and other pollution as it blew eastward.

The dust cloud, measuring thousands of square miles, formed on the desert border of northwestern China and Mongolia. Over the next two weeks it moved across the Pacific Ocean and North America, blanketing large portions of the western United States and Canada as well as areas of New England with a white haze. It dissipated over the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Europe.

Dust storms have long been a major environmental and health concern not only for China but also Japan and Korea, where they are called "yellow dust." But scientists had never before tracked such a large and intense storm into North America.
"We are seeing that even the largest ocean in the world isn't a sufficient barrier to prevent pollution from crossing the sea," said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute.

The storms gather and push air pollutants in front of them, including methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, said Russ Schnell, director of observatory operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose satellites tracked the storms.

The storm "was very intense and it brought a lot of things with it ... this big glob of pollution," Schnell said. "Like a motorboat in a lake, it pushes what's in front of it."
Dust itself is also a pollutant, especially particles that are small enough to be inhaled and cause respiratory problems.

Right now, the dust clouds are not a serious pollution threat to the United States. But that could easily change as the economies of Asia grow and consume more energy, which increases the pollution that gets caught up in the storms, Schnell said.
The storms are an "early signal" of even greater problems to come as a result of widespread environmental degradation in northern China, including poor farming practices that have increased deforestation and desertification and severely strained water resources, Brown said.

More than 1 million square miles of China is desert, and nearly 1,000 square miles is lost to sand each year. At least 400 Chinese cities are short of water.
The Chinese government has announced a $22 billion tree-planting program in the nation's northern provinces, including a 2,000-mile-long tree berm aimed at holding back the encroaching Gobi Desert. Chinese officials have also announced a new five-year economic plan that calls for industry to recycle more water.
However, "it's going to take a much larger effort" to turn the problem around, Brown said. If not corrected, China could lose large areas of cropland to desert, which would force the dislocation of tens of millions of Chinese.

Not all the dust storms plaguing North America come from Asia. Dust storms from Africa can rise up to 20,000 feet and are carried by trade winds across the Atlantic to the United States.

Every few years, fine red-brown dust from Africa will fill the skies over Florida and some other East Coast states at levels just shy of violating the standard for fine particulate matter under the Clean Air Act, said Joseph Prospero, director of the Institute for Cooperative Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami.
The Environmental Protection Agency's standard for fine particulate matter is no more than 65 micrograms per cubic meter. Africa dust clouds over Florida frequently reach 50 micrograms, Prospero said.

The "mother of all dust sources in the world" is an area of northern Chad in what is known as the Bodele depression, Prospero said. With satellite imagery, "you can just see this thing putting out dust day after day - very specific plumes," he said.

Sometimes the dust even gets to the French Alps....

Oh yea and this is from NASA but what do they know....

Scientists Dust Off Desert Sands from the French Alps

NASA funded scientists, using an atmospheric computer model, proved for the first time dust from China's TaklaMakan desert traveled more than 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) over two weeks and landed on the French Alps. Chinese dust plumes have reached North America and Greenland, but had not been reported in Europe.

The findings are highlighted in a paper authored by Francis E. Grousset of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEOCU), Palisades, N.Y., and Universite Bordeaux, France; Aloys Bory and Pierre E. Biscaye, also of LDEOCU; and Paul Ginoux, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md. The study appeared in a recent issue of the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters.

"The dust particles traveled around the world in about two weeks, and along their journey, crossed China, the North Pacific, North America and the North Atlantic Ocean," Ginoux said.

Research conducted showed a score of red dust events coated the snow cover in the French Alps and Pyrenees mountains. The red dust topping these European mountain ranges was sampled and stored in bags for comparison with dust from other parts of the world. Scientists analyze the minerals and compositions of certain distinctive elements (isotopes) of the dust to identify its origin. Information about the origins and final locations of dust are important to help determine any effects from heavy metal, fungal, bacterial and viral distribution that may be associated with it.
Ginoux and his colleagues used NASA technology and support in their research. Meteorological information, such as wind speed and direction, precipitation, air pressure, and temperature, were put into a computer model. The model recreated how the atmosphere moved as the dust traveled from China to the Alps. The meteorological information was from GSFC's Earth Observing System Data Assimilation System.
Several computer models, simulating the movement of dust in the atmosphere, were used to track its journey in this study. The Global Ozone Chemistry Aerosol Radiation Transport computer model, largely funded by NASA, uses the winds, soil moisture, and surface characteristics to simulate dust generation and transport. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory (ARL), provided models showing the paths of air masses, as they moved around the world, from the time the dust was swept into the atmosphere to when it settled on the Alps.

ARL can project where air pollution will move based on meteorological conditions. NOAA's National Weather Service National Center for Environmental Prediction re-analyzed global meteorological conditions and plotted the dust movement to verify the computer models.
This research was funded by France's National Center for Scientific Research, NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), and the National Science Foundation. NASA's ESE is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

I could also post a bunch of pics from Lake Powell as the dust moved over the Lake and got all the million dollar boats dirty..

I think there are many reasons we are getting this dust layer and I would say the attorney in this case did a good job of getting a half truth at best out.
"I feel better than any other time when I am in the mountains and uh I cant explain it ya know...." - Shawn Farmer..........
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Old 04-15-2010   #14
Park City, Utah
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Thank you for making my point with facts. OHV and the pursuit of natural gas are small time contributors to a very big problem.
Growing up, my family and I raced on the rocky mountain enduro circuit. Motorcycles were a big part of my life. I now can't stand OHV's. I've been sitting in the middle of the elk creek wilderness on three occaisions and had idiots ride up on them. I have been calling in turkeys, to have idiots come cross country up and place themselves between the bird and me on their four wheelers. I have been camped at sections of cottonwood creek and watched kids destroying meadows clearly marked no motor vehicles while their parents sat and watched. I have come to hate OHV's, but I can't blame them for the dust on the snow.

I should note that my venom on this subject is not held towards snow mobiles. For some reason, their operators seem to have the ability to follow rules a little better than the so many three and four wheeler tools. Anyway, enough ranting today!!
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Old 04-15-2010   #15
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 29
Dust sources

I was in South East Utah during three separate dust storms that eventually dropped significant amounts of dust across the Four Corners including my home town of Durango. In each case the wind blew hard (20-30 mph sustained) for nearly 24 hours and picked up a tremendous amount of dust. Visibility was less than a mile. Anyone familiar with this area is aware that much of the desert especially the river flood plains are covered in fine grained, easily disturbed particles. There is no way all of this dust was from extra OHV trails or drilling roads. Overgrazing, which is rampant on BLM lands, would have a much greater impact. Either way if you blast the desert with high wind for hours at a time, you will get dust.

Even with the overgrazing problem it is important to recognize that dust storms in the Four Corners are a natural occurrence. There is a reason that the first several inches of topsoil from Monticello to Durango contains, or is comprised of loess. Wind blown particles. I would only caution to stick to the science and keep the big picture in mind. Pointing fingers before having a comprehensive body of evidence can be divisive.

By the way I am a SUWA member and appreciate very much what they do for the Southwest. I am also a motorcycle rider and am very aware of the damage OHV abuse can cause. A little personal responsibility can go a long way.
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Old 04-15-2010   #16
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Position of Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

I recently wrote Chris Landry, Executive Director of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton, about this. I was curious what the source of the snow was as I had heard Mongolia, Mexico, etc. Here is his reply:

Dustin -

Thanks for the note ... I've got just enough time today to let you know that this dust is not from China, it's from the greater Colorado Plateau of SE and E'rn Utah, NE Arizona, NW New Mexico, and SW Colorado. We know that from detailed chemical and other analyses, and actual satellite imagery of the events in progress.

Check out our website for a list of pubs about this dust ...

Chris Landry – Exec. Dir.
Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies
Silverton, CO

As for dust in NW Utah, it's likely from a different source. Their analysis pertains to Silverton and points "down-weather" of there, I would assume. The Ark Valley included. Here's what Mt. Columbia looked like after the storm: South Main | Facebook
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Old 04-29-2010   #17
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Indian Hills, Colorado
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Chris is quite the guy on DOS....yep source is Colo Plateau. It is not a new phenomenon; samples from San Juan lake beds show that dust accumulation rates peaked about 100 years ago after widespread grazing and railroads on the Colo Plateau. Anecdotal evidence suggests that dust is more common recently than in the past; but nobody has confirmed that there are statistically significantly recent trends. I understand that the Asspen Times corrected their story. Snow with dust absorbs about 50% of solar radiation compared to 5% by pure white snow. Snow with dust melts 30 - 50 days sooner than pure snow.

This morning, my truck had a layer of red snow on it. Runoff is not far away.
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Old 04-29-2010   #18
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Durango, Colorado
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Chris has study areas around Colorado. Their main station is just north of Red Mountain Pass, but they also monitor sites for dust from the Steamboat area to Wolf Creek Pass.
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Old 04-29-2010   #19
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Originally Posted by DanOrion View Post
This morning, my truck had a layer of red snow on it. Runoff is not far away.
Yep, had another layer of dust in BV this least in town, I would imagine it is in the hills too.
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Old 04-29-2010   #20
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Just in from CODOS:

Greetings from Silverton on Thursday afternoon, April 29th. I've spoken to many of you by phone today ... apologies to the rest of you for the delay in this Alert ... the CSAS's email service provider crashed yesterday so I'm sending this using my new staffer's, Kim Buck, gmail account. Please reply, if you wish, to my normal email address: We'll hope that my service is restored soon.

As may have been self evident to many of you, the western San Juan Mountains, at least, and I suspect most Colorado mountain ranges and locales experienced a substantial dust storm and dust-on-snow deposition event yesterday afternoon, and perhaps continue to do so this morning. We we will label this event as D6-WY2010. We first observed dust in the air in the early afternoon yesterday (Wednesday) here in Silverton and then winds and dust intensified throughout the remainder of the daylight hours and into the night, as a largely "dry" dust storm, with only an occasional sprinkle of muddy rain. Our Putney study plot recorded a peak gust of 96 mph in the early morning today, and winds continue to average 40-50 mph at that location. Measureable precipitation began, as snow, at our Swamp Angel Study Plot at Red Mountain Pass just at dawn this morning and that new snow may also contain dust, given that wind direction remains SW'ly.

On our N'ly and E'ly aspects here in the San Juans this event, D6 fell on top of the layer of clean snow that fell last week and weekend (Storms #21 and #22 of the season). That clean snow layer had been rapidly thinning so the separation of D6 from the already merged D5/D4/D3/D2 layer may be small in many locations. At lower elevations and on S'ly and W'ly aspects D6 did land directly on that exposed merged D5/D4/D3/D2 surface. Although we have no first-hand reports, I suspect a similar scenario was ocurring farther to the north and east of the San Juans, in the Central mountains and on Grand Mesa. In the northernmost ranges, where recent storms left behind substantially more new snow than we received here, D6 (where it was received) may be widely separated from the D5/D4/D3/D2 merged layer we observed in mid-April.

The National Weather Service anticipates a wide range of new snow accumulations over the next 48 hours of from 12-18" in the north, at Rabbit Ears Pass, to just a few inches at Berthoud and Loveland Passes, to 9-14" at Schofield Pass, to 8-17" at our study site on Grand Mesa, to 6-14" at Red Mountain Pass, to just a few inches at Wolf Creek Pass. It appears that unsettled weather through the weekend COULD, if those forecasts verify, reduce the incoming solar radiation reaching the Colorado snowpack and any exposed or thinly covered dust until early or the middle of next week, when high pressure eventually returns to the desert southwest. But, in many areas the D6 layer may remain exposed due to wind stripping, or as are result of minimal new snow amounts

The CODOS team will be able to confirm the presence/absence of the D6 layer, and it's position relative to the existing D5/D4/D3/D2 layer(s), and to the snowpack surface, during our tour of the eleven CODOS monitoring sites beginning on Monday, May 3rd.

More soon,

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