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Masdar Institute Model To Allow Near Real-Time Dust-Storm Forecasting
(18 July 2016)


The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven, graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced the launch of a real-time dust forecasting system that provides accurate, up-to-date dust information for the Middle East region.

The advanced dust forecasting system will help inform government officials and UAE residents about anticipated dust-storms so that the country can better prepare for them. The web-based forecasting system is available online at Masdar Institute's official web-site.

The limited visibility produced by dust-storms causes road accidents and flight delays. The high levels of mineral dust and other pollutants wafted into the air during a dust-storm can trigger asthma, respiratory diseases, and other infectious diseases. Dust-storms also coat solar panels with residue, reducing their power output until cleaned, and can have detrimental effects on agricultural crops. Thus, through the configured and calibrated dust forecasting system at Masdar Institute, the "Atmospheric Composition and Weather Forecast System", the UAE will be better equipped to prepare for and tackle the negative impacts of dust-storms.

"This is a turning point in the region’s ability to properly manage the impacts of dust-storms. With access to accurate forecast of dust events and sandstorms, people can better prepare for them. This information will be extremely useful for the transportation sector, as it will help show motorists, pilots and air traffic controllers where the dust will be and for approximately how long," said Dr. Hosni Ghedira, Director of the Research Center for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment, ReCREMA, and Professor of Practice at Masdar Institute.

The forecasting system provides nearly real-time maps of atmospheric dust and other pollutants across the UAE. It is similar to the UAE Solar and Wind Atlases created by ReCREMA. These atlases provide nearly real-time satellite maps of the UAE’s solar and wind resources. Both are publicly available and have been integrated into the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Global Atlas for Renewable Energy.

By being able to better predict the UAE’s dust-storms, the country can more effectively and efficiently manage its agricultural sector, renewable energy infrastructure, transportation, health, environment and climate policy, key socio-economic sectors affected by dust-storms, and provide advanced warning ahead of extreme dust events in order to reduce risk to human life.

Dr. Ghedira is part of the research team that is the first to use the advanced chemistry-transport model, called CHIMERE, over the Middle East to simulate dust concentrations across the region. CHIMERE is an open source model for air quality forecasting and simulation that enables researchers to enter weather and land surface parameters to produce forecasts of atmospheric ozone, aerosols and other pollutants, and run simulations for emission control scenarios.

Other members of the team include Post-Doctoral Researcher, Dr. Naseema Beegum Shyju, and Research Scientists Dr. Imen Gherboudj and Dr. Naira Chaouch.

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