DustWatch is a community-based program which monitors wind erosion across Australia. It is led by scientists from OEH and Griffith University, with the help and support of government agency and community observers. The DustWatch program aims to:
- report on the extent and severity of wind erosion by measuring dust concentration and observing visibility; and
- raise awareness of the effects of wind erosion on the landscape and the impacts of dust on the community and the environment.
DustWatch does not aim to report on air quality and health related issues. See OEH 's air quality index and the NSW Department of Health.
Background information about wind erosion in Australia is available on the wind erosion page or on the National DustWatch website.
More detail on DustWatch is available in the journal article below.
Leys, J. F., McTainsh, G. H., Strong, C. L., Heidenreich, S., and Biesaga, K. (2008). DustWatch: Using community networks to improve wind erosion monitoring in Australia. Earth Surface Process and Landforms, 33, 1912-26.
DustWatch in Australia
The DustWatch program across Australia reports on the extent and severity of wind erosion at different spatial and temporal scales and uses a range of methods to achieve this.
Currently there are two DustWatch coordinators for Australia.
- The north section of DustWatch is led by Professor Grant McTainsh and Dr Craig Strong at Griffith University. They report on dust processes and annual long-term trends in dust activity across Australia sourcing data from Bureau of Meteorology sites and community observers. More information at the National DustWatch website web site.
- The south-east section of DustWatch is led by Dr John Leys from OEH with support from Stephan Heidenreich, Michael Case and Dr Xihua Yang from the same Department. They report on dust processes and weekly trends in dust activity in NSW. They source data from instrumented sites and community observers. Details of how and what they report is outlined in the 'DustWatch in NSW' section below.
It is envisaged that as community awareness of wind erosion across the country increases the need for more DustWatch coordinators at state levels will occur.
DustWatch in NSW
Weekly Dustwatch reports
The south-east DustWatch team report weekly (subject to staff and equipment availability) on dust activity across NSW. This is possible through the strategic investment in instrumentation by OEH and three NSW Catchment Management Authorities CMAs (see support section below).
The weekly report uses a range of data to build a picture of dust activity for the week. Data sources include:
- measurements from the DustWatch node instruments
- information and images from DustWatch volunteers (CMA staff, government agency staff and general community)
- satellite images from MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC
- fire data from the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS)
- meteorological data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
You can read or download the latest report and previous reports online. Alternatively subscribe to DustWatch reports by sending an email to: email@example.com
DustWatch observations from CMA staff and community observers compliment the measurements of dust concentrations taken by instruments at 27 sites throughout NSW. These sites are called DustWatch nodes, and are located at Bourke, Broken Hill, Buronga, Cobar, Condobolin, Coombah, Cowra, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Euston, Gunnedah, Hay, Hillston, Ivanhoe, Kyalite, Lake Victoria, Menindee, Moolawatana, Moree, Parkes, Penarie, Pooncarie, Temora, Tibooburra, Walgett, West Wyalong and White Cliffs.
DustWatch node locations - October 2009
Instruments to monitor dust
Instruments to monitor dust (right) are solar powered and monitor dust concentration of particles less than 10 microns in diameter in the air every 15 minutes. This increases to every minute when dust concentrations are above significant levels (25 ug per cubic metre).
DustWatch volunteers make observations of dust events using Bureau of Meteorology protocols for dust event type, visibility, wind direction and speed. They also report local conditions and suggest why there is dust in their area. Volunteers at DustWatch nodes (mainly in NSW) record dust events and help maintain the instruments.
Any one in Australia can contribute to increasing the understanding of wind erosion processes by making an observation. If you are located in the south-east area (see map top of page) and are interested in submitting a DustWatch report, please fill out the online survey form or download the report template (MS Excel Spreadsheet or PDF) and email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively you can print it and fax it to:
(02) 6742 3129
or post it to:
PO Box 20
Gunnedah, NSW 2380
The DustWatch program relies on funding and in-kind support of many individuals and groups and we gratefully acknowledge their support.
The northern DustWatch program is currently funded by Caring for our Country. It was previously funded by National Heritage Trust, LandCare and the Desert Knowledge CRC.
In NSW, DustWatch is funded by the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Lachlan CMA, Murray CMA and OEH. Other inland CMAs, landholders, community businesses and individuals provide in-kind support.
The Bureau of Meteorology provides data to DustWatch via subscription and its web site. The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Goddard Space Flight Centre (NASA/GSFC) provide satellite images from MODIS Rapid Response Project. Fire data from the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS).
Page last updated: 02 August 2012