Aims and Objectives


1. Introduction

The IUGS/GEM Working Group will focus on the environmental management of problems associated with atmospheric dust and other particulates. These have major implications for human health, agriculture and habitats. Impacts may be physical, chemical or biological (e.g. soil loss through erosion and effects on crops and people during deposition; effects of contaminants from industrial processes, military actions, or volcanic activity on various receptors; or potential hazards from bacteria carried in dust clouds). A regulatory system has developed in many countries to deal with anthropogenic dust and articulates but responses to dealing with emissions from natural sources are, as yet, poorly developed. There is a need to identify appropriate approaches to mitigating the effects of emissions and to disseminate the information widely. This will need to draw on expertise from a number of fields including the earth, atmospheric, health, geomorphological, agricultural, microbiological and ecological sciences.
2. Aim and objectives of the proposed Working Group
The aim is to improve responses to emissions of dust and other particulates. The objectives are to:

a) review, collate and disseminate material on the existing understanding of the nature, behaviour and impacts of dust and particulates in the earth system and to stimulate new investigations into associated under-researched areas;

b) review existing legislation, regulation and management responses and to set out good practices in forms that can be readily appreciated and followed by administrators, land managers and the public; and

c) to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to dealing with dust issues.

3. Proposed work plan
It is proposed that formative discussions should be undertaken in the first half of 2009 aiming towards an initial working group meeting later that year, if possible to be held alongside the GEM meeting in Montevideo. The working group would then undertake a 4 year plan of action with delivery of key outputs to coincide with the 2012 IGC Conference in Brisbane, Australia and build towards an international association for consideration of these issues in the longer term.

Task 1: convene an inception committee and consolidate plan of action –early 2009

Task 2: establish contacts with other international scientific organisations in the atmospheric, health, geomorphological, agricultural, microbiological and ecological sciences to secure representatives and potential participants

Task 3: make arrangements for working group meeting in late 2009 with the main aim of “scoping the topic” and to publish a paper summarising the outcomes

Task 4: set up and populate website

Task 5: undertake planning for a book, aimed at a wide readership, reviewing dust issues and management responses, solicit initial contributions from members and identify gaps

Task 6: attempt to secure contributions to fill gaps in proposed book and potential publisher

Task 7: working group meeting 2010

Task 8: working group meeting 2011

Task 9: draw together and review contributions to book and submit to publisher

Task 10: working group meeting 2012 (linked to IGC Congress)

Task 11: take steps to set up an international association for the study of dust and particulates 2012-2013

4. Finances

The Working Group should be self supporting. The Committee members should be supported by their own organisations or personally.  Funds will be sought from other sources, particularly to support Committee members from developing countries and for the organisation and conduct of meetings, but, at this formative stage, it is not yet possible to give a detailed account of sources. It is intended that a finances should be discussed at the first Committee meeting so that approaches can be made to potential funding organisations.

5. Governance
The aim is to set up a Committee drawn from representatives from all major geographical regions, covering the appropriate range of scientific disciplines, and not exceeding 10 members. The Committee should meet at least once per annum and maintain e-mail dialogues between meetings.  The Chairman will be J A Centeno (USA), a GEM Officer. It is proposed that the Secretary should initially be B R Marker (UK). The inception stages have been advised by potential Committee members Mark Lyles, Jeff Plumlee and Dale Griffin (all USA).

Consultations have been undertaken to peer review the proposal and to identify members of a wider international Committee.

6. Communication plan

• Reporting via the Chairman to each GEM annual meeting;

• An article in “Episodes” at 2 year intervals to reach the international scientific community;

• Articles to peer reviewed journals and publications of international conference proceedings;

• A book covering the whole of the topic; and

• A short text aimed at administrators and land managers on appropriate responses to dealing with problems.

However it is also important to communicate much more widely. Therefore it is proposed to issue announcements on key issues on issues and findings at intervals for the wider public in order to raise awareness of the importance of these.