Analyzing the Trend of Changes in the Dust Storm Index (DSI) and Its Relationship with the Meteorological Drought in the Arid Climate (Case Study: Semnan Province)

Document Type : Original Article


1 Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Research Institute, Semnan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Semnan, Iran

2 Department of Desertification, Faculty of Desertology, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran


Introduction: Dust is a common phenomenon in arid and semi-arid regions. One of the factors
that play a role in the occurrence of this phenomenon is the change in weather conditions, which
leads to drought, and the drying of lakes and rivers has caused crises such as sandstorms. This
phenomenon leads to negative effects on agriculture, water and soil pollution, and respiratory
diseases, as well as environmental and social challenges such as reduced visibility and road
accidents. The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between the DSI dust
index and SPI standardized precipitation drought index in Semnan Province.
Material and Methods: The studied area of Semnan Province is located in the southern region
of the Alborz Mountain range. To investigate the effect of drought on the amount of dust, the
daily data of dust, monthly rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and evapotranspiration of
five synoptic stations of Semnan Province within a period of 15 years (2003-2017) were used
on an annual scale. During a 15-year period, the drought storm index (DSI) was determined for
the synoptic stations using the dust storm index, and then the cumulative DSI index was
calculated. Afterwards, statistical and experimental evaluations was done on annual
fluctuations to identify potential trends. Also, experiment and linear regression analysis were
used to evaluate the correlation of standard precipitation index and dust storms, and Arc GIS
software was used for zoning.
Results and Discussion: The results showed that the average annual temperature in the region
has increased from 2003 to 2017. This rapid warming has caused drought and as a result,
temperature, evaporation and transpiration have also increased and led to a decrease in rainfall.
A month-by-month survey of wind speed in different stations showed that there is a possibility
of dust in the province in the months of June and July when the maximum wind speed prevails.
On the contrary, the months of December and January experienced the least occurrence of dust.
The annual changes of DSI (2003 to 2017) showed an irregular shape and do not have a trend.
Thus, in 2011, the intensity of dust was high and decreased in the following year, and the same
was observed in 2016. According to the SPI index, Semnan Province was in the normal drought
category with a score of 0.59. The in-depth analysis of the correlation chart between the
standardized rainfall indices and DSI showed that the DSI has increased along with the severity
of drought during the study period and there is a good correlation between the DSI index and
the meteorological drought in the region, so that when there was a drought period, the value of
DSI decreased and when it was a drought period, the value of the dust index increased.
However, there is no significant relationship between these two indicators (p =0.07 and
R2=0.22) during the 15-year research period.
Conclusion: Our findings indicated an increase in dust from the west to the east of the province
due to the increase in average dust storm days. Correlation results between SPI and DSI index
showed that although DSI index increased during the analyzed period along with the severity
of drought, the correlation between the two was not significant. However, the DSI index trend
pattern was consistent with the drought pattern trend. Finally, the correlation between drought
and DSI has always fluctuated according to droughts.


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