Activities at Department of Defense (DoD) training and testing ranges can be sources of dust in local and regional airsheds governed by air quality regulations. Activities that generate dust by disturbing local surfaces include vehicle and troop maneuvers, convoy movement, helicopter activities, munitions impacts, roadway preparations, and wind erosion. Smokes and obscurants, controlled burns, and engine operations also produce particulates. Computational tools are needed to estimate the contribution of range activities to particulate air quality for evaluating compliance with air quality standards and other air quality issues.

The objective of this project was to develop an atmospheric dispersion modeling system for use in complex terrain to help manage dust-generating activities at military ranges, estimate contributions to local and regional air quality, and develop dust mitigation strategies.

Technical Approach

The dust dispersion modeling system (DUST TRANsport or DUSTRAN) was constructed from widely used, scientifically defensible atmospheric models and model components. The modeling system efficiently couples these modeling components and advances the state of the science in dust-emission formulations. DUSTRAN is based on Environmental System Research Institute’s ArcMap (v. 9) geographic information system (GIS), the Environmental Protection Agency’s approved CALPUFF dispersion model, and the widely used CALGRID dispersion model. The CALMET model provides the meteorological fields for the CALPUFF and CALGRID dispersion models. The modeling system runs on a personal computer under the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. DUSTRAN currently includes explicit source modules for estimating dust emissions generated by wheeled military vehicles and by wind erosion. DUSTRAN has a graphical user interface allowing the user to easily specify inputs and view model outputs graphically within the GIS.


The fully tested and documented DUSTRAN modeling system and User’s Guide is available on CD from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

To further enhance DUSTRAN, SERDP projects RC-1399 and RC-1400 are providing dust emission factors from unique military dust-generating sources, such as tracked vehicles, rotary-wing aircraft, and artillery back-blast. These new emission factors will be incorporated under SERDP project RC-1399 as they become available.


DUSTRAN is widely applicable to assessing air quality impacts from particulate (and gaseous) sources. It specifically treats particulate emissions from vehicle activity and high winds, but can also treat any particulate or gaseous emissions provided the emission rates are known. DUSTRAN can easily be applied at any location in the United States for assessing local-scale (tens of kilometers) to regional-scale (hundreds of kilometers) air quality impacts. (Project Completed – 2007)