Do MODIS-defined dust sources have a geomorphological signature?

The preferential dust source (PDS) scheme enables large-scale mapping of geomorphology in terms of importance for dust emissions but has not been independently tested other than at local scales. We examine the PDS qualitative conceptual model of surface emissivity alongside a quantitative measurement of dust loading from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Deep Blue Collection 6 for the Chihuahuan Desert. The predicted ranked importance of each geomorphic type for dust emissions is compared with the actual ranked importance as determined from the satellite-derived dust loading. For this region, the predicted variability and magnitude of dust emissions from most surface types present coincides with the observed characteristics demonstrating the significance of geomorphological controls on emission. The exception is for areas of low magnitude but persistent emissions such as alluvial surfaces where PDS overpredicts dustiness. As PDS is a good predictor of emissions and incorporates surface dynamics it could improve models of future dust emissions.