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Dragon dust: atmospheric science and cooperation on desertification in the Asia and Pacific region.

Are scientific or nonscientific factors most influential in initiating international cooperation on newly emerging transboundary environmental problems in the Asia and Pacific region? In a case study of long-range atmospheric transport of dust, which is linked to desertification in China and Mongolia, the relative influence of scientific versus nonscientific factors in promoting cooperation in the region is analyzed. The study examines two dimensions of the problem--Northeast Asia and North America--and demonstrates that similar to the distance-dependence of the problem (i.e., dust concentrations decrease the greater the distance from the sources), cooperation follows a parallel relationship (i.e., motivation to cooperate decreases the greater the distance from the sources). Scientific cooperation in Northeast Asia is being institutionalized, but North America has not joined this effort. A synergy between factors must be invoked to explain this situation. In both cases, obvious and often dramatic negative impacts of massive dust storms are an enabling factor allowing more subtle science-related factors to come to the fore.

KEYWORDS: desertification, long-range transport of dust, science and policy, international environmental cooperation


East Asia's impressive economic development in recent decades has resulted in, among other outcomes, impressive environmental problems, some of which are transboundary in nature. Transboundary environmental problems in the region include air pollution (e.g., acid rain), contamination and overfishing of regional seas (e.g., East China Sea), degradation of transboundary rivers (e.g., Mekong River), and declines in migratory bird populations (e.g., cranes). To this list can now be added dust storms and long-range atmospheric transport of dust, a form of air pollution.

Most of East Asia's transboundary environmental problems cannot be effectively addressed without international cooperation. However, such cooperation has been slow to emerge. In addition, a trans-Pacific web of cooperation is arguably emerging, albeit at an even slower pace. (1) Why is the pace of international environmental cooperation so slow? And when cooperation does emerge, what factors explain its emergence? A number of recent works tackle these questions. (2) One of the commonalities in many analyses of international environmental cooperation in East Asia is that science is posited as a primary factor inspiring cooperation, especially in the early stages. Thus, more specifically, we can ask: Are scientific or nonscientific factors most influential in initiating international cooperation on newly emerging transboundary environmental problems in the Asia and Pacific region? In this article, I distinguish and compare the influence of scientific versus nonscientific factors in a case study of the recently recognized problem of long-range transport of dust in the Asia and Pacific region, which in turn is linked to desertification in China and Mongolia (herein referred to as the "dust-desertification problem"). The relative influence of these factors in structuring state perceptions, constructing common interests, and promoting international cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region is analyzed.

Numerous works seek to differentiate the influence of scientific and nonscientific factors in regime formation and international environmental cooperation. (3) Some concentrate specifically on atmospheric issues, which are the focus of this article. (4) In addition, there is a growing number of studies of international environmental cooperation in East Asia, (5) some of which concentrate on atmospheric issues. (6) This study contributes to the literature analyzing the determinants of international environmental cooperation in East Asia, especially in its early stages, by adding a case study on the dust-desertification problem. It is, to my knowledge, the first detailed analysis of this transboundary environmental problem. In the case study, I aim to remedy some of the problems with existing work. Few of the East Asian studies examining the determinants of cooperation systematically segregate scientific from nonscientific factors and, particularly for the scientific factors, fewer still distinguish various subfactors. Science is generally taken as a single factor. On the dust-desertification problem, it turns out that no single (sub)factor explains present cooperation, especially when considered in a trans-Pacific context.

The problem of long-range transport of dust, or mineral aerosols, in the North Pacific region has two primary and separable transboundary dimensions: (1) dust transport within Northeast Asia (China-Mongolia to the Koreas and Japan), and (2) dust transport to North America (China-Mongolia to Canada and the United States). In this study, these two dimensions are treated as two distinct cases, and the relative influence of science and nonscience factors in promoting cooperation is compared within and between the two cases. There is formal and active cooperation occurring among China, Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan (the Northeast Asian case); however, the same is not true in the North American case. Comparing the influence of scientific versus nonscientific factors helps explain why.

Adding this dust-desertification case study to the collection of studies on international environmental cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region contributes to building a foundation for comparative analysis across a number of different transboundary environmental issues, a project that has not been undertaken for the region as a whole. East Asia is still deficient in regional environmental governance mechanisms, and the region spanning the Pacific Ocean is almost devoid of them. Insights into why international cooperation is or is not occurring across a broad spectrum of issues can provide valuable knowledge by which the East Asian and Pacific regions can strengthen governance of transboundary environmental problems.

I begin by outlining the methodology used in the study and then provide background on the root cause of the problem--desertification in Northeast Asia--and sketch the history of atmospheric transport of dust in the region. I then present the Northeast Asian and North American cases and conclude by discussing findings and drawing conclusions.


The central dynamic I examine in this article is the genesis of international environmental cooperation or, alternatively, regime formation. I created a simple scheme for analyzing the relative importance of science and nonscience factors in initiating international cooperation on the dust-desertification problem. (7) The scheme is used to draw out the synergistic interaction between various (sub)factors. In addition, the concept of an "enabling factor" (a key factor that is necessary but not sufficient to explain cooperation) is introduced to help portray the synergy.

A common driver for the development of common interests and international cooperation on air pollution problems is the direct and indirect transboundary negative impacts of the pollutants. Considering mineral aerosols (dust) as an air pollutant, two types of impacts can be distinguished (these two types constitute different categories in my scheme). The first type is obvious adverse impacts (e.g., human lives lost, domesticated animals killed, property damaged, and visibility reduced). Such impacts are generally transparent and are understandable to nonexperts. An example is the consequences associated with the infamous Dust Bowl years in Canada and the United States during the 1930s. I interpret obvious impacts to be nonscience factors because they do not require scientific interpretation to be comprehensible to policymakers and the general public (though, of course, various scientific data can enhance understanding of them). Somewhat to my surprise, obvious impacts from dust storms in Northeast Asia are not the sole factor explaining cooperation in the region, but rather an enabling factor. The second type of impact is subtle adverse consequences that require expert interpretation (e.g., discerning the impact of dust in the atmosphere on climate change). These consequences may be actual or potential, whereas obvious impacts as I have defined them are always real or actual impacts. A set of eight subtle impacts of atmospheric dust are (1) altered regional and global climate, (2) increased risk to public health, (3) difficulty attaining local particulate matter (PM) standards, (4) reduced visibility in natural areas (background visibility), (5) compromised technological equipment, (6) enhanced pollutant transformation and transport, (7) microbe transport, and (8) transformed terrestrial and marine ecosystems. (8)

The second subdivision in my scheme (over and above the difference between obvious and subtle adverse impacts) is simply nonimpact elements related to both the science and nonscience categories. Nonimpact-related science factors include, for example, the desire of a state to upgrade its scientific capability, the need for data from one country to run another country's atmospheric computer models, and the uncertainty in scientific knowledge. Non-impact-related, nonscience factors include, for example, power dynamics within the state system, political and historical contexts, and availability of technological solutions. Table 1 illustrates the analytic framework used for this study.

To assess which factors were most influential on each of the states involved in the dust-desertification problem, I employed multiple data-gathering techniques, including analysis of primary and secondary documents (journal articles, policy statements, newspaper articles, workshop proceedings, and Web pages); attendance at dust-related scientific conferences; and interviews, conversations, and personal communication with various actors.

Background: Desertification in China and Mongolia

The 1994 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the principal international governance structure for addressing the world's desertification problems. (9) It spells out general principles and obligations of states but contains no specific deadlines, targets, or rules. Its most innovative feature is that it obligates states to channel resources to local land users and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The UNCCD recognizes that efforts to combat desertification must be adapted to local conditions and must be carried out by local communities, but also that these efforts need to be integrated into national and regional strategies. The primary mode for tackling desertification problems is National Action Programs (NAPs). NAPs are developed by national governments, usually in close consultation with donor organizations, NGOs, and local communities. NAPs are to be supplemented by regional and subregional programs that provide an integrated framework for tackling large-scale desertification problems. Asia is one of the designated regions in the convention. Within Northeast Asia, the only two countries experiencing significant desertification problems are China and Mongolia.

The countries in this study signed and ratified the UNCCD in the following years: China (1994/1997), Mongolia (1994/1996), South Korea (1994/1999), Japan (1994/1998), Canada (1994/1995), and the United States (1994/2000). Since the UNCCD was originally signed in 1994, desertification has become worse in China and Mongolia. Illustrative of the worsening situation is the historically increasing rate of desertification in China (Table 2) and the number of "strong" dust storms in China (Table 3).

There are multiple causes of increasing desertification in China and Mongolia, including overgrazing; deforestation; opening up of land unsuitable for cultivation; inappropriate use of water resources; loss of land to mines, factories, roads, and cities; and uncontrolled harvesting of medicinal herbs--in addition to climate change. (10)


The turning point for China in acknowledging the seriousness of its desertification problems was a monumental dust storm that occurred on May 5, 1993. (11) It terrorized the hardest-hit areas in northern China with a black wall of dust and sand more than 300 meters high. The storm extended over an area of 1.1 million square kilometers (11.5 percent of Chinese territory) and affected over 12 million people, killing 85 and injuring 246. Other losses included 4,412 houses destroyed, 120,000 livestock killed or displaced, 400,000 hectares of cropland damaged, over 1,000 kilometers of irrigation channels buried, and more than 6,000 electricity and communication poles toppled. Total damage was estimated to be over US$70 million. This event galvanized both public awareness and policymaking related to desertification and dust storms.

In the aftermath of the 1993 storm, China's first national conference on dust storms was held in Lanzhou, Gansu province, and research on dust storms was incorporated into China's eighth Five-Year Science and Technology Plan. The following year, 1994, China signed the UNCCD and set up the China National Committee for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCICCD) under the State Forestry Administration. In addition, China's first nationwide inventory of desertified land was conducted from 1994 to 1996. CCICCD was mandated with creating China's NAP, which was accomplished in 1996. In 1997, a National Bureau to Combat Desertification was established, also under the State Forestry Administration, to manage projects under CCICCD. In addition, to link research, policy, and practice, China established a National Desertification Monitoring Centre, a National Training Centre for Combating Desertification, and a National Research and Development Centre for Combating Desertification. In 1999, nationwide monitoring of desertification was started.

Of China's many plans to combat desertification, the Great Green Wall plan has received the most attention. (12) Formulated as part of an afforestation effort begun in the 1970s, it is to be a 4,500-kilometer network of forest belts (over 9 million acres) constructed at a cost of US$8 billion. This makes it one of the largest ecological restoration projects in the world, though many doubt its efficacy. Despite the seemingly proactive measures of the Chinese government, China's 2000 national report on desertification opened with the line "China is one of the most severely affected countries [in the world] suffering from desertification." (13) If desertification is not reversed, the report continued, "Beijing City will be buried by drifting sands." (14)

By 2000, a total of approximately 2.6 million square kilometers (or 27 percent of China's territory) was estimated to be affected by desertification. (15) This constitutes almost 80 percent of all of China's deserts and drylands. Desertified lands affect about 400 million people (about 31 percent of China's population). The estimated annual direct economic losses due to desertification are US$6.5 billion, which accounts for 16 percent of overall damage worldwide due to desertification. (16)

In response to its dire desertification situation, China formulated a highly ambitious (and perhaps idealistic) NAP for the twenty-first century consisting of three phases that are projected to bring the problem under control by 2050. (17) The Great Green Wall is part of this plan. In the first phase (2001-2010), desertification will be arrested through such measures as preserving existing plant cover and replanting trees, shrubs, and grasses. In the second phase (2011-2030), desertified lands will be improved through various rehabilitation and restoration efforts, with the intent of reestablishing viable ecosystems. And in the third phase (2031-2050), the aim is to bring under control all human and natural processes that cause desertification. A high priority in all phases is to develop effective monitoring and assessment mechanisms.

China was also active internationally during the period when it was organizing its national program. The first Regional Conference on the Implementation of UNCCD in Asia occurred in 1996 in New Delhi. In the same year, China hosted the Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification, which produced the Beijing Framework for Action on Asia-African Cooperation on Combating Desertification. At the New Delhi conference, participants decided to pool regional experience and stimulate cooperation among research institutions by setting up Thematic Programme Networks (TPNs). At a meeting the following year in Beijing--the Ministerial Conference on Regional Cooperation to Implement the CCD in Asia--six TPNs were established: (1) desertification monitoring and assessment, (2) agroforestry and soil conservation, (3) rangeland management and sand dune fixation, (4) water resources management, (5) capacity building for drought impact mitigation, and (6) local development. These TPNs are the main constituents of an Asian Regional Action Programme. China volunteered to host the first TPN, known formally as the Asian Thematic Programme Network on Desertification Monitoring and Assessment, or TPN1. The first priority of TPN1 was to create a desertification map of Asia.


Mongolia is the second desertification hot spot in the East Asian region after China and the most upwind source of Asian dust. (18) Mongolia is a high, arid land, thousands of kilometers from the sea, with a dry and cold climate. Even though up to 90 percent of the country is believed to be vulnerable to desertification, land degradation does not seem to be widespread. (19) It is estimated that 30 percent of the country is moderately affected by degradation and 4 percent severely affected. (20) In comparison, in neighboring Inner Mongolia in China, due to higher population and heavier pressures on the land, degradation is more severe. However, there seems to be considerable uncertainty over the extent of desertification in Mongolia. L. Natsagdorj et al. report that 70 percent of pastureland is desertified. (21) This is significant because of all the land area suitable for agriculture in Mongolia, the vast majority (almost 99 percent) is utilized for pastoral livestock production. Livestock numbers increased 38 percent between 1987 and 1997. (22) Despite this, degradation associated with grazing has occurred only in pockets, particularly those close to settlements and water sources. (23) Even though cropland constitutes less than 1 percent of total land area suitable for agriculture, it is a significant source of atmospheric dust because spring tilling coincides with the driest season, which is also the season of highest winds. (24) In addition, most of the cultivated land is devoid of trees and windbreaks. For both natural and human-activity sources, spring is the main dust season (over 60 percent of all dust storms occur in the spring). (25)

Long-Range Transport of Asian Dust

Worsening desertification in China and Mongolia set the stage for the emergence in the late 1990s of long-range transport of dust as an international environmental problem in the Asia and Pacific region. Dust transport has a long history in the region, though. Dust and sandstorms have been reported in China for millennia. Their occurrence was first noted in Chinese written records more than 2,000 years ago. (26) However, there seems to be a historical trend of increasing dust storms from about 1300 (during the Yuan Dynasty) up to the present, which seems correlated with population increases. (27)

The two main dust source areas are the Taklamakan Desert and surrounding Tarim Basin and the Gobi Desert and surrounding Mongolian Plateau. (28) Controlled by the Asian monsoon climate, movement of large quantities of dust and sand is most frequent in the spring when winds from Siberia create the meteorological conditions for large-scale lofting and transport of dust. Since the color of the soil particles injected into the atmosphere in these areas is generally yellowish, Asian dust is often referred to as huangsha in Chinese, hwangsa in Korean, and kosa in Japanese (all literally translating as "yellow sands").

In recent years, the frequency, the intensity, and the geographical coverage of dust storms have jumped dramatically. Dust clouds are commonly transported in the spring from the continent to the Korean Peninsula, then to Japan (a distance of 2,000-4000 kilometers), and even into and across the Pacific Ocean. (29) Their influence has been noted as far east as the Atlantic Ocean and as far north as Alaska and the Arctic (distances of tens of thousands of kilometers). (30) The downwind nations most affected by the dust are the North Pacific countries of North and South Korea, Japan, Canada, and the United States. Long-range transport of dust in the North Pacific region potentially provides incentive for international cooperation to address the root cause of the problem--desertification in China and Mongolia. In the next section, I present the Northeast Asian and North American cases and evaluate the role of science and nonscience factors in influencing cooperation.

Two Cases: Northeast Asia and North America

National Interests: China and Mongolia

China and Mongolia are the two primary dust source countries in Northeast Asia. Some of the science and nonscience factors shaping their perceptions and national interests, and ultimately their reasons for engaging in international cooperation, are first outlined. This is followed by an analysis of how and why Japan and South Korea (Northeast Asian case) and Canada and the United States (North American case) are cooperating with China and Mongolia.

Massive dust storms, not the mere presence of dust in the atmosphere, are shaping China and Mongolia's perceptions and driving their national and international agendas relative to the dust-desertification problem. There were signs of a lurking problem prior to the 1990s (see Tables 2 and 3); however, they were not heeded until the destructive May 1993 dust storm discussed previously. China's capital city, Beijing, has been blanketed in dust each spring over the past decade or so, and photos of residents covering their mouths and faces have become famous worldwide. The dust storms have resulted in "obvious negative impacts," such as loss of life, severe property damage, and widespread media coverage. These nonscience factors are dominant in shaping both China's and Mongolia's interests.

A second nonscience factor influencing both countries is limited resources: limited financial resources (the economies of the most affected provinces in China, for instance, are among the least developed in the country, and Mongolia's economy has been more or less stagnant since the country gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union); limited technological capacity in areas such as silviculture; a shortage of trained personnel; underdeveloped policy and legal structure relative to land use management; and a weak scientific capacity to forecast and give early warning of dust storms. (31) Thus, both countries are hungry for financial, technological, and capacity-building assistance.

A third powerful nonscience factor for China is the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Olympics are a coming-of-age event for China similar to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Japan and the 1988 Seoul Olympics for South Korea. However, dust and dust storms could dirty the event. Air pollution was a factor in Beijing's failure to win the Olympics in its first bid. China's desire to clean Beijing's air of dust (and other pollutants) is a high priority for the 2008 Olympics. China is at present working with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to set up an air pollution and dust forecasting system in time for the Olympics that will imitate the successful system Australia employed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Scientific knowledge has also played a major role in shaping China's, and to a lesser extent Mongolia's, interest in dust and desertification; however, as already indicated, it was not science that galvanized public awareness and government action. China's scientific interest in dust and desertification increased significantly in the mid- to late 1990s and has exploded since 2000. China is putting amazing effort into constructing a scientific picture of the problem (i.e., a scientific problem-framework) for informing policy. Mongolia's efforts have also increased significantly during the same time period.

One indicator of China's scientific effort is the fact that it lists the largest number of experts on the UNCCD's Roster of Experts (159 out of 1,809, or almost 9 percent of the total number of experts listed as of May 1,2006; under "science" and "find an expert"). A second indicator is the quantum jump since the mid-1990s in the number of Chinese authors contributing dust-related articles to top atmospheric science journals such as Atmospheric Environment and the Journal of Geophysical Research. A third indicator is the dust storm forecasting system set up in 2001 as part of the Chinese Meteorological Administration's daily weather forecasts during the winter to spring seasons, and the China Duststorm Network ( hosted by the Gansu Meteorological Department, which is designed to be a center of scientific exchange, news, and public education. And a fourth indicator is the formation in Beijing of a group of scientists known as "The Dust Club," which held its first meeting in April 2005 (

Mongolia's efforts pale by comparison to those of China. The first scientific study of dust storms in Mongolia was in 1973. (32) After a long quiescent period, such research was revived in the late 1990s. Mongolia lists only three out of 1,809 experts on the UNCCD's Roster of Experts, or 0.17 percent of the total number of experts listed as of May 1, 2006. Also, there are very few articles by Mongolian scientists published in the top atmospheric journals. Mongolia relies on help from outside organizations such as UN organizations, foreign aid agencies, and foreign foundations to beef up its scientific capability.

Rapidly emerging from the various Chinese and Mongolian scientific efforts is a Chinese/Mongolian dust-desertification scientific problem-framework. Until recently, the process of constructing such a problem-framework was ad hoc and informal; however, it is being formalized, as is discussed below.

Beyond the statement that a serious problem exists in China and Mongolia, there is controversy. It is not clear why dust storms have increased recently. Is it due to climate change, human-induced desertification, or other reasons? There is also disagreement over specific source regions and their relative strength. As mentioned earlier, the scientific consensus is that the main sources of dust are the Taklamakan and Gobi desert regions. (33) However, within these large areas it is not clear where dust originates. There is active scientific research on chemical signatures (identification criteria) that can be used to distinguish one source from another. In particular, one area of controversy is how big a contributor Mongolia is to overall dust emissions. (34) If Mongolia is a significant source of dust to China, then to clear its own skies China must engage in cooperation with Mongolia to reduce Mongolia's desertification problems. Another area of uncertainty is atmospheric pathways of dust transport. The two main paths of long-range transport of dust seem to be (1) an eastward route from the Mongolian Plateau region over Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the Pacific Ocean, and (2) a north-then-eastward route over the Tianshan Mountains and Lake Balkhash to about 50 [degrees] N before turning eastward toward the Pacific Ocean. (35) Ultimately, detailed knowledge of atmospheric pathways is necessary to determine source-receptor relationships that, for instance, are the basis for assessing negative downwind impacts.

In summary, the Chinese-Mongolian scientific problem-framework is incipient. Much knowledge is uncertain and many gaps remain (for instance, data from Mongolia are extremely sparse). There is a veil of scientific uncertainty relative to the link between dust in the atmosphere and desertification. Thus, a key factor shaping Chinese and Mongolian interests relates not to the problem-framework's content but to the uncertainty of the content. Both countries require help to resolve the scientific uncertainty, and this makes them highly receptive to international scientific cooperation. Having established a set of scientific and nonscientific factors shaping Chinese and Mongolian predisposition for international cooperation, we turn now to an examination of the factors shaping downwind countries' perceptions, interests, and desire to cooperate.

Case 1: Northeast Asia

South Korea and Japan, the downwind countries in Northeast Asia hardest hit by dust storms, are increasingly proactive in domestic and international dust-desertification policy formation. Other affected countries are Taiwan and (far eastern) Russia; however, they are not considered here because they do not suffer from dust storms as seriously, nor are they as politically active on the issue. In addition, North Korea, even though it is in the direct line of dust storms, is not considered for lack of data on its reactions to imported dust. Interestingly, though, North Korea acceded to the UNCCD in 2003.

Before discussing South Korea and Japan individually, three important non-impact-related, nonscience factors influencing both countries' appetite for international cooperation need to be highlighted. The first factor (which is inhibiting cooperation) relates to historical context. China, South Korea, and Japan have a troubled relationship due to the legacy of the colonial and World War II eras. The distrust resulting from this legacy affects virtually all of these countries' international relations, not just environmental issues. The second factor (which also inhibits cooperation) is that Japan and South Korea increasingly see China as an economic competitor and thus increasingly question aid for China. In Japan, for instance, there is "an emotional tug of war over supplying aid to an economic competitor viewed as ungrateful at times." (36) Hence, both countries are "demanding more in return" for aid to China. The third factor (which is enhancing cooperation) is the high degree of concern over future environmental quality of the region. Northeast Asian countries have high rates of economic growth and high population densities. These, among other determinants, have led to rapid environmental deterioration in the region. International environmental cooperation is necessary to prevent a further slide.

South Korea. The Korean Peninsula (North and South Korea) is the closest downwind region along the typical atmospheric trajectories from the China-Mongolia dust source regions. It usually takes about two to three days for dust to reach the peninsula. Records of dust blown from China and Mongolia to the Korean Peninsula span almost 2,000 years. (37) The earliest record dates from C.E. 174. Over 100 records have been found that cover the approximate period 1000-1900. Data from Seoul for the twentieth century indicate that dust events occurred on average four days per year; however, during the 1990s, the frequency increased to ten days per year. (38)

Recently, South Korea, and presumably also North Korea, have experienced severe direct impacts from dust storms. The turning point was 2001. In April of that year, a large dust storm blanketed the country. Then in March 2002, an even bigger storm hit. Clinics were swamped with people seeking relief from asthmatic symptoms, most elementary schools and airports were closed, and manufacturers of semiconductors and precision products had to increase air filtration efforts and alter work schedules. Hyundai Motors even started to shrink-wrap their export cars to protect them from dust. (39) South Koreans now refer to a fifth season: the yellow dust season.

Science supplemented the above "data." Scientific monitoring in 2002 documented that particulate matter (PM) levels were the highest in thirty years, reaching over 3,000 micrograms per cubic meter ([micro]g/[m.sup.3]) for PM10 (dust particles smaller than 10 microns or [10.sup.-6] meters in diameter). (40) Also, the annual mean concentration of PM10 for the entire year of 2002 was over 100 [micro]g/[m.sup.3]. (41) By comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual average standard for PM10 is 50 [micro]g/[m.sup.3].

The severity of the March 2002 dust storm was such that "obvious negative impacts" (a nonscience factor) became the determining factor shaping South Korean interests. Soon after this event, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) instituted an Asian Dust Warning System. The two-level system is designed to inform the public and disaster prevention authorities of an approaching dust storm. An "advisory" is issued when the hourly averaged dust (PM10) is expected to exceed 500 [micro]g/[m.sup.3] for over two hours, and a "warning" is issued when the average is expected to exceed 1,000 [micro]g/[m.sup.3]. These notices primarily target the old, the young (especially schoolchildren), those with respiratory illness, and those engaged in heavy outdoor activity.

South Korea's scientific problem-framework shares many of the uncertainties in the China-Mongolian framework--for instance, uncertain ties as to dust sources and atmospheric pathways. Much of South Korea's scientific effort revolves around monitoring and modeling dust, especially as it relates to forecasting dust storms. Thus, it is necessary for South Korea to cooperate with China and Mongolia in order to access needed scientific information. Besides resolving scientific uncertainties, there are other areas of concern related to subtle impacts, including climate change, the relationship between dust and health (one study (42) showed a weak correlation between Asian dust events and deaths, especially from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses), effects on manufacturing operations, and pollutants carried on dust particles (43) (since dust arrives in Korea after passing over heavily industrialized parts of eastern China, it may carry toxic materials from combustion sources).

Japan. Japan is also downwind of the typical dust trajectories from the China-Mongolia source regions. However, in contrast to South Korea, Japan has not been subject to the extremely high dust concentrations because of its greater distance from the source regions. It has not experienced the increased hospital visits, closed schools and airports, and slowed factories of South Korea. Thus, compared to South Korea, science has played a much larger role in shaping its perceptions and determining its interests.

The scientific study of dust transport from mainland Asia has a long history in Japan. (44) The first use of the term kosa in Japanese scientific literature is in a meteorological journal in 1906. Dust research occurred with increasing frequency in the 1920s and 1930s, dropped off thereafter, and did not take off again until the 1970s with the advent of new technologies. (45) After acid rain was identified as a prominent domestic issue in Japan in the 1970s, dust research further increased. In the 1980s, transboundary transport of acidic pollutants from mainland Asia was discovered. This transformed acid rain from a domestic to an international issue and led to keen interest in Asian dust because of its acid-neutralizing capacity. (46) In particular, it was necessary to determine the characteristics of dust so that its influence could be incorporated into acid rain computer models. (47) It was estimated that dust from China and Mongolia could neutralize 10-15 percent of the acidic substances in the atmosphere. In this context, Asian dust seemed to be a beneficial player in Japan's acid rain problem.

Recent research, though, has shown that dust may carry pollutants, including acidic pollutants. (48) Japan receives 1-3 million tonnes of dust per year. Taking an average of 2 million tonnes per year, researchers found that the nitrates (N[O.sub.3]-) carried on the dust are equivalent to the nitrogen oxides (N[O.sub.x]) emitted from 700,000 cars. The nitrate is formed by reactions with N[O.sub.x] on the particle surfaces. In addition, sulfates are also formed on the surface of dust particles and can be carried long distances. In 2003, Japan began a three-year research program of pollutant transport on dust.

Japan is also heavily engaged in aerosol-related climate change research. For example, Japan and China have worked together since April 2000 through a project known as the Aeolian Dust Experiment on Climate Impact (ADEC) project ( South Korea now also participates.

In summary, Japan's present dust-desertification interests are heavily influenced by science-related factors--in particular, subtle trans-boundary adverse consequences related to climate change and enhanced pollutant transport on dust particles. However, nonscientific factors also shape Japan's perceptions, and thus its motivation, to engage in international cooperation. Japan is the second largest donor country to the UNCCD, despite the fact that it has no deserts or dry-lands. Among the many reasons for this seemingly incongruous support are genuine concerns about the problem of desertification, especially in Africa; the desire to curry favor among developing nations; and the desire to export its expertise in forestry.

Cooperation in Northeast Asia. China, Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan have each engaged in a process of constructing national interests relative to the dust-desertification problem since around 1990. The breakdown by factor of their current national interests is summarized in Table 4. These countries have also engaged in a process of constructing common interests. This process was sporadic and uncoordinated at first, but it intensified dramatically after the outbreak of severe dust storms blanketing the region almost annually since around 2000.

Identification of common interests has led to multilateral cooperation on the dust-desertification problem. Discussion of cooperation emerged in 2001 after the large dust storm in April of that year. Initially the main venue for discussing cooperation was the annual China-Japan-Korea Trilateral Environmental Ministerial Meeting (TEMM) ( The first TEMM was initiated by South Korea and held in Seoul in 1999. Neither desertification nor dust storms were mentioned in the joint communique of this meeting. A second TEMM was held in Beijing in 2000. Again, dust storms were not an issue, although desertification was mentioned in passing in the joint communique. At the third TEMM in 2001, South Korea brought up the problem of dust storms for the first time and portrayed it as a public health issue. China did not appreciate painting the problem as a health issue and ignored Korea's initiatives. The meeting's joint communique, however, did express the ministers' "great concern about the degradation of natural conditions in Northwest China" and urged "cooperation for systematic studies on sand dust [sic]." Worse dust storms were experienced in the region in 2002, and again the issue was raised at the fourth TEMM. The ministers "paid special attention of the recent outbreak of sandstorm[s]."

China, South Korea, and Japan thereafter agreed to develop a joint strategy for addressing the desertification and dust storm issue. The result was the establishment in 2003 of the Dust and Sand Storm (DSS) Project (formally, the ADB-GEF Regional Technical Assistance Project for Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a grant of US$500,000 from its Japan Special Fund. This was matched by an equivalent amount from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project came to include all four countries and four international organizations (ADB, UNCCD, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The main goal of the eighteen-month (January 2003 to July 2004) project was to create a master plan for cooperation centering on a regional monitoring program and early warning system for dust storms in Northeast Asia--in other words, to create a mechanism of regional scientific cooperation where none existed. The master plan was published in March 2005, and steps are now being taken to implement the monitoring and early warning elements. (49)

How can we explain this international cooperation on the dust-desertification problem in Northeast Asia? The explosion of scientific, political, and public interest in dust in Asia in recent years is almost entirely due to the "sudden" appearance of massive dust storms. Therefore, one might surmise that the main driver of international cooperation is the obvious negative impacts of the dust storms (a nonscience factor). Indeed, this seems to be the case for China, Mongolia, and South Korea but does not explain Japan's involvement. Japan's motivations are more complex and can be explained using a combination of science and non-science factors--specifically concern over regional degradation, the veil of scientific uncertainty, and subtle impacts (especially climate change and enhanced pollutant transport). These factors have so far outweighed arguments against cooperation, such as economic competition with China.

The Olympics is a huge (nonscience) factor for China, but not for the other countries, and helps explain China's eagerness to develop an early warning system for dust storms. South Korea's and Japan's advanced technologies (e.g., monitoring instruments, remote sensing equipment, and computer models) will greatly assist in developing such a system. In return, South Korea and Japan gain access to valuable environmental data. Thus, more broadly, the complementarity between China's and Mongolia's lack of scientific, technological, and financial capacity and Japan's and South Korea's abundance of all three creates a structural situation conducive to international scientific cooperation.

To date, international cooperation among China, Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan focuses on coordinating scientific research (monitoring equipment and protocols, computer models, and exchange of data) rather than on tackling the root causes of desertification. This is consistent with Japan's domestic interests because Japan is not at this point overly worried about the impacts of long-range transport of dust. South Korea is more worried, but a monitoring and early warning system is consistent with its research priorities and with enhancing its own Asian Dust Warning System. Developing a regional monitoring program and early warning system for dust storms is also consistent with China and Mongolia's interests. Both will gain funding to increase their scientific and technological capabilities. It also lends support to China's role in hosting TPN1.

In conclusion, the fact that cooperation is occurring in Northeast Asia and that it is focused on scientific research and capacity building can be explained by means of a complex interaction between both science and nonscience factors. The obvious impacts of dust storms, while an essential enabling (nonscience) factor, is not the sole determinant of cooperation. Three additional factors have contributed strongly to construction of a common interest in regional-scale scientific cooperation: (1) concern over regional degradation (nonscience factor); (2) the veil of scientific uncertainty (in other words, immature state of research in China and Mongolia, and need for Japan and South Korea to gain access to Chinese and Mongolia environmental data) (science factor); and (3) various subtle impacts, especially climate change and enhanced pollutant transport (science factor).

Case 2: North America

In Canada and the United States, it was scientists who first informed policymakers and the general public that mineral aerosols from dust storms in Asia had been carried across the Pacific Ocean. Without science, people on the North American side of the Pacific would never know that dust clouds had reached their shores from Asia. There is a relatively long history of tracking atmospheric dust from Asia into the Pacific Ocean. (50) However, the earliest documentation of large-scale transport of dust across the Pacific to the West Coast of North America did not occur until April 1998. (51) This event captured significant scientific and even public attention. It was the result of a dust storm over the Gobi Desert that crossed the Pacific Ocean in five days. It added some 20-50 [micro]g/[m.sup.3] to West Coast PM levels, with local peaks of greater than 100 pg/[m.sup.3]. The dust cloud was detected as far as Minnesota. In a few locations, aerosol concentrations pushed the EPA's twenty-four-hour standard of 150 pg/[m.sup.3] for PM 10. In southern British Columbia, PM10 levels increased to about 100 [micro]g/[m.sup.3]. Health authorities of British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon issued air pollution advisories. A second large event occurred in April 2001. Dust was spread across some 25 percent of the mainland United States. These and subsequent events have attracted mass media attention. (52)

Despite these dust events, Canada and the United States have not engaged in international cooperation with China and Mongolia similar to the newly formalized Northeast Asian monitoring program and early warning system for dust storms. Canada's efforts related to desertification overwhelmingly focus on Africa. While Canada experiences desertification, its primary role in relation to the UNCCD is as a donor country. The story is similar for the United States, which also experiences desertification; its primary role in relation to the UNCCD is as a donor country. In addition, the US Congress has placed restrictions on US Agency for International Development (USAID) projects with China. Canada and the United States are engaged in small-scale, bilateral, and ad hoc international cooperation with Northeast Asia, including scientific collaboration; however, neither country has committed itself to sustained international cooperation on the Asian dust-desertification problem. Why?

As can be seen in Table 4, North American interests are dominated by the scientifically determined subtle consequences of long-range transport of atmospheric dust (i.e., science factors). Two stand out: (1) the relation between climate change and elevated dust aerosol concentrations in the Pacific region, and (2) increased difficulty of attaining local PM standards due to imported dust, especially along the West Coast of North America. Each is explained below.

Both Canada and the United States are keenly interested in long-range transport of dust from Asia because of its relationship to climate change. A central tool of climate research is global climate models (GCMs). Incorporating aerosols, including soil dust, into these models is extremely difficult because the physical, chemical, and optical properties of aerosols are often poorly characterized and have a high degree of spatial and temporal variability. The problem is especially acute in the Pacific Basin, where aerosol measurements are sparse and typically of short duration. Without detailed aerosol measurements, GCM simulations must use drastically oversimplified aerosol parameterizations. Canada and the United States, as leaders in climate change research, have a strong interest in improving their GCMs. Therefore, they have strong interest in researching dust storms and long-range transport of dust in the Pacific Basin and in scientific collaboration with Asian counterparts. The largest climate-related, trans-Pacific scientific collaboration to date is the Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE)--Asia project. (53)

The impact of imported dust on local air quality standards is a growing concern. As local air quality standards are tightened in Canada and the United States, any increase in pollutant concentrations due to imported dust will make it more difficult to achieve the standards. West Coast political jurisdictions, especially California, are particularly worried. Some researchers argue that dust transport and deposition to North America occurs not solely as episodic springtime events but almost continuously throughout the year with a seeming hiatus in the winter, and that the dust haze extends throughout North America from Alaska to the Caribbean, not just the Pacific coast. (54) Thus, "fine Asian dust [is] a persistent and pervasive component of the troposphere over the North Pacific and North America." (55) This situation again argues for scientific collaboration with Asia in order to better characterize imported dust loadings and their effect on local air quality standards.

Similar to the situation for air quality standards, any increase in imported pollutants, such as soil dust, will make it more difficult to maintain high visibility levels in natural areas. Under its 1999 Regional Haze Rule, the United States embarked on a sixty-five-year goal of returning 156 national parks and wilderness areas (located primarily in the western United States) to their natural visibility. Long-range transport of large quantities of dust from Asia could make it impossible to achieve such a goal. Canada does not have a similar regulation but is concerned about degradation of visibility in natural areas.

Public health impacts in North America due to long-range atmospheric transport of dust have more or less been ruled out. A special report on the 2001 dust event concluded that even though the dust caused PM levels to rise dramatically at some locations in the United States, this type of event seemed rare and the overall increases in PM concentrations due to Asian dust were not a health concern for the general population. (56) Similarly, enhanced pollutant transport in which toxic pollutants are carried on dust particles, while an emerging research area, (57) is not of sufficient concern to exert much pressure toward international cooperation.

In conclusion, there is currently no international cooperative project among the United States, Canada, and China-Mongolia like the Northeast Asian monitoring program and early warning system for dust storms. There is periodic international collaboration, such as the ACE-Asia project, but no institutionalized cooperation. This can be explained because, first of all, nonscience factors--in particular, obvious negative consequences--have played almost no role in the development of trans-Pacific common interests. What has played a role is the scientifically determined, subtle consequences (science factors), especially those related to climate change and local air quality standards. But these consequences have not yet triggered major concern among North American policymakers.


International, institutionalized cooperation is occurring in Northeast Asia on the emerging dust-desertification problem. However, its form is scientific cooperation revolving around the atmospheric sciences, not cooperation on the root problem of desertification. It is an open question as to whether this scientific cooperation will lead to formalized joint action on desertification. The dust-desertification case is following what seems to be a common sequence of stages of international cooperation on technically complex transboundary environmental problems in Northeast Asia in which scientific cooperation precedes "real" cooperation on the root problem. Acid rain exhibits this pattern, as do some marine issues. International, institutionalized cooperation is not occurring in a Pacific-wide context on the dust-desertification problem. Analysis clearly reveals that no single factor explains both cooperation in the Northeast Asian case and noncooperation in the North American case. Instead, a synergy among various factors must be invoked.

Commonly perceived threats are a powerful basis for constructing common interests among states and for engaging in international cooperation. In the case of long-range transport of dust, it seems reasonable to postulate that common threats from the obvious and often dramatic impacts of massive dust storms (enhanced by the fact that dust storms are "photogenic" and thus garner mass media and public attention) are the basis for the emerging international cooperation in Northeast Asia. However, as this study shows, obvious impacts (a nonscience factor) do not alone explain current cooperation.

The problem of long-range atmospheric transport of dust is a distance-dependent problem (i.e., dust concentrations decrease the farther one travels from the source region). And the obvious impacts of dust, such as lost lives, damaged property, closed factories and schools, and increased hospital visits, are also distance-dependent. Following this pattern, the development of common interests and international cooperation has also been distance-dependent. Within Northeast Asia, obvious impacts have had a major influence on China's, Mongolia's, and South Korea's desire for cooperation. But the same cannot be said for Japan. Obvious impacts have also carried little weight in Canada and the United States. Thus, the obvious negative consequences of atmospheric dust, rather than being the decisive factor in promoting international cooperation, have served as the enabling factor that has generated the awareness and context for other factors to come to the fore. Obvious negative consequences are a necessary but not sufficient factor in explaining international cooperation.

The complementarity between China's and Mongolia's lack of scientific, technological, and financial capacity and Japan's and South Korea's abundance of all three has also been a factor influencing cooperation. In the North American case, there is also a complementarity; Canada and the United States possess abundant scientific, technological, and financial capacity. However, in the North American case, institutionalization of cooperation is not occurring, whereas it is in the Northeast Asian case. Thus, complementarity of capacity can be ruled out as the determining factor promoting international cooperation. So what are the determining factors?

Returning to the question posed at the beginning of the article as to which factors--scientific or nonscientific--are most influential in initiating international cooperation on newly emerging transboundary environmental problems in the Asia and Pacific region, the results of this case study suggest that for the problem of long-range atmospheric transport of dust, scientific factors weigh more heavily and are the determining factors. The obvious negative impacts of dust are the enabling factor in both the Northeast Asian and North American cases; however, subtle impacts and the veil of scientific uncertainty, in conjunction with the complementarity of capacity (all science factors), are the basis of common interests among all states and explain the initiation of cooperation and its form in Northeast Asia (i.e., the monitoring program and early warning system for dust storms, a regional-scale scientific initiative) and also explain the existence and form in the North American case (i.e., continuing but ad hoc scientific collaboration between North America and Northeast Asia). In particular, science factors explain why the focus of current cooperative efforts revolves around the atmospheric sciences, not desertification directly.

China, Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan have created an initial institutional framework focused on scientific cooperation. Depending on the future emergence and interplay of scientific and nonscientific factors, this may serve as the springboard for wider cooperation to combat desertification in China and Mongolia. It may also serve as the springboard for North America to join Northeast Asian efforts and even for creating a broader trans-Pacific environmental governance structure.


I wish to thank the following individuals for consenting to be interviewed or for providing me with information: Tom Cahill, University of California, Davis; Greg Carmichael, University of Iowa; Sunling Gong, Environment Canada; Rudy Husar, Washington University; Carey Jang, US Environmental Protection Agency; Barry Huebert, University of Hawaii; Ikuko Moil, National Institute for Environmental Studies (Japan); Toshiyuki Murayama, Tokyo University of Mercantile Marine; Masataka Nishikawa, National Institute for Environmental Studies (Japan); Soon-Ung Park, Seoul National University; Russ Schnell, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Tony Van-Curen, California Air Resources Board; Sen Wang, Canadian Forest Service; Martin Williams, University of Adelaide; Lian Xie, North Carolina State University; Jentai Yang, US Environmental Protection Agency; and Kebin Zhang, Beijing Forestry University. In addition, I profited from comments and insights offered by Stephan Haggard and two anonymous reviewers. I thank them for their careful reading of my manuscript. Research for this study was funded in part by grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency (GX82944101) and the University of Northern British Columbia. A preliminary version of this article was presented at the 45th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, March 17-20, 2004, Montreal, Canada.

(1.) Examples of trans-Pacific environmental cooperation include the 1911 North Pacific Fur Seal Convention, the 1992 Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean, efforts to introduce environmental issues into deliberations within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), and exchanges between nongovernmental organizations on both sides of the Pacific.

(2.) See, for example, Zafar Adeel, ed., East Asian Experience in Environmental Governance: Response in a Rapidly Developing Region (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2003); Paul G. Harris, ed., International Environmental Cooperation: Politics and Diplomacy in Pacific Asia (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2002); and Miranda A. Schreurs and Dennis Pirages, eds., Ecological Security in Northeast Asia (Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 1998).

(3.) See, for example, Stephen Bocking, Nature's Experts: Science, Politics, and the Environment (Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004); Neil Harrison and Gary Bryner, Science and Politics in the International Environment (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); Steinar Andresen et al., Science and Politics in International Environmental Regimes: Between Integrity and Involvement (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000); Brian Wynne, "Scientific Knowledge and the Global Environment," in Michael Redclift and Ted Benton, eds., Social Theory and the Global Environment (London: Routledge, 1994); Oran R. Young and Gail Osherenko, Polar Politics: Creating International Environmental Regimes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993); and Peter M. Haas, Saving the Mediterranean: The Politics of International Environmental Cooperation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

(4.) See, for example, Edward A. Parson, Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science, Strategy and Negotiations in the Shaping of a Global Environmental Regime (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Karin Backstrand, What Can Nature Withstand? Science, Politics and Discourses in Transboundary Air Pollution Diplomacy (Lund: Lund University Press, 2001); Reiner Grundmann, Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone (London: Routledge, 2001); Clark A. Miller and Paul N. Edwards, Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001); and Marvin S. Soroos, The Endangered Atmosphere: Preserving a Global Commons (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997).

(5.) See note 2.

(6.) See, for example, Kenneth E. Wilkening, Acid Rain Science and Politics in Japan: A History of Knowledge and Action Toward Sustainability (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004); Wakana Takahashi, "Problems of Environmental Cooperation in Northeast Asia: The Case of Acid Rain," in Harris, International Environmental Cooperation; and Anna Brettell and Yasuko Kawashima, "Sino-Japanese Relations on Acid Rain," in Schreurs and Pirages, Ecological Security.

(7.) This scheme draws on my own work (Wilkening, Acid Rain Science and Politics in Japan) and that of Radoslav S. Dimitrov, Science and International Environmental Policy: Regimes and Nonregimes in Global Governance (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), and Young and Osherenko, Polar Politics.

(8.) These are described in Ken Wilkening, "Global Dust: Atmospheric Science and the Globalization of Desertification" (manuscript under review).

(9.) Pierre Marc Johnson, Karel Mayrand, and Marc Paquin, eds., Governing Global Desertification: Linking Environmental Degradation, Poverty and Participation (Williston, VT: Ashgate, 2006).

(10.) Ibid.: Longjun Ci, "Disasters of Strong Sandstorms over Large Areas and the Spread of Land Desertification in China" (ch. 10), and Qi Lu and Hongbo Ju, "Root Causes, Processes and Consequence Analysis of Sandstorms in Northern China in 2000" (ch. 12), in Youlin Yang, Victor Squires, and Qi Lu, eds., Global Alarm: Dust and Sandstorms from the World's Drylands (Bangkok: Asia Regional Coordinating Unit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2001); US Embassy Beijing, "Grapes of Wrath in Inner Mongolia" (2001), available at; US Embassy Beijing, "China Adopts Law to Control Desertification" (2001), available at; US Embassy Beijing, "PRC Desertification: Inner Mongolian Range Wars and the Ningxia Population Boom" (1998), available at; US Embassy Beijing, "PRC Desertification: Mud Rain Rarer Now" (1998), available at; Zambyn Batjargal, "Desertification in Mongolia," in Rala Report No. 200: Case Studies of Rangeland Desertification. Proceedings from an International Workshop in Iceland, September 1997 (Reykjavik: Agricultural Research Institute, 1997).

(11.) Shigong Wang et al., "Progress of Research on Understanding Sand and Dust Storms in the World" (ch. 2), and Gengsheng Yang, Honglang Xiao, and Wanquan Tuo, "Black Windstorm in Northwest China: A Case Study of the Strong Sand-Dust Storm on May 5, 1993" (ch. 3), in Yang, Squires, and Lu, Global Alarm.

(12.) F. Parungo et al., "Gobi Dust Storms and the Great Green Wall," Geophysical Research Letters 21, no. 11 (1994): 999-1002.

(13.) CCICCD, China National Report on the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and National Action Programme to Combat Desertification (Beijing: Secretariat of the China National Committee for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), p. 5.

(14.) Ibid., p. 7.

(15.) Ibid., p. 5.

(16.) Yang, Squires, and Lu, Global Alarm. p. ix.

(17.) Sen Wang, Rui Zheng, and Youlin Yang, "Combating Desertification: The Asian Experience," International Forestry Review 2, no. 2 (2000): 112-117.

(18.) N. J. Middleton, "Dust Storms in the Mongolian People's Republic," Journal of Arid Environments 20 (1991): 287-297.

(19.) Ministry of Nature and Environment of Mongolia, National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification in Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Ministry of Nature and Environment, 1997), p. 3.

(20.) Ibid., p. 19.

(21.) L. Natsagdorj, D. Jugder, and Y. S. Chung, "Analysis of Dust Storms Observed in Mongolia During 1937-1999," Atmospheric Environment 37 (2003): 1401-1411.

(22.) Batjargal, "Desertification in Mongolia."

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Natsagdorj, Jugder, and Chung, "Analysis of Dust Storms."

(26.) Zhibao Dong, Xunming Wang, and Lianyou Liu, "Wind Erosion in Arid and Semiarid China: An Overview," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 55, no. 4 (2000): 439-444; Masataka Nishikawa, "Kosa earozoru no furumai nitsuite" (Environmental effects of Kosa aerosol), Kankyo kagaku (Journal of Environmental Chemistry) 3, no. 4 (1993): 673-682 (in Japanese).

(27.) See Figure 5 in Dong, Wang, and Liu, "Wind Erosion in Arid and Semiarid China," p. 443.

(28.) Jie Xuan et al., "Identification and Characterization of Sources of Atmospheric Mineral Dust in East Asia," Atmospheric Environment 38 (2004): 6239-6252.

(29.) Kenneth E. Wilkening, Leonard A. Barrie, and Marilyn Engle, "Trans-Pacific Air Pollution," Science 290 (2000): 65, 67.

(30.) US Environmental Protection Agency, "Impact of April 2001 Asian Dust Event on Particulate Matter Concentrations in the United States," in National Air Quality and Emissions Trends Report, 2003 (Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency, 2003); Kenneth A. Rahn, Randolph D. Borys, and Glenn E. Shaw, "The Asian Source of Arctic Haze Bands," Nature 268 (1977): 713-715.

(31.) CCICCD, China National Report on the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and National Action Programme to Combat Desertification; Ministry of Nature and Environment of Mongolia, National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification in Mongolia.

(32.) Natsagdorj, Jugder, and Chung, "Analysis of Dust Storms," p. 1402.

(33.) Xuan et al., "Identification and Characterization of Sources of Atmospheric Mineral Dust in East Asia."

(34.) For an indication of Mongolia's contribution, see Figure 6, ibid.

(35.) Ibid.; Jimin Sun, "Provenance of Loess Material and Formation of Loess Deposits on the Chinese Loess Plateau," Earth and Planetary Science Letters 203 (2002): 845-859.

(36.) Mick Corliss, "China's Environmental Problems Pose Opportunities," Japan Times, October 25, 2002, p. 3.

(37.) Youngsin Chun et al., "Synopsis, Transport, and Physical Characteristics of Asian Dust in Korea," Journal of Geophysical Research 106, no. D16 (2001): 18461-18469; Y. Chun, "Yellow Sand Phenomenon Recorded in the Choson Dynasty Silok," Journal of the Korean Meteorological Society 36, no. 2 (2000): 285-292.

(38.) Chun et al., "Synopsis, Transport, and Physical Characteristics of Asian Dust in Korea."

(39.) Howard W. French, "China's Growing Deserts Are Suffocating Korea," New York Times, April 14, 2002, sec. 1, p. 3.

(40.) Youngsin Chun, "Monitoring and Forecasting of Asian Dust Events in Korea," a presentation at the Third Expert Meeting on Ecological Conservation in Northwest China: Seminar on Dust and Sand Storms (DSS), February 18, 2003; Yong-seung Chung et al., "On Heavy Dustfall Observed with Explosive Sandstorms in Chongwon-Chongju, Korea in 2002," Atmospheric Environment 37 (2003): 3425-3433.

(41.) Chung et al., "On Heavy Dustfall."

(42.) Ho-Jang Kwon et al., "Effects of the Asian Dust Events on Daily Mortality in Seoul, Korea," Environmental Research 90, no. 1 (2002): 1-5.

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Nishikawa, "Kosa earozoru no furumai nitsuite" (Environmental effects of Kosa aerosol); Nagoya University Water Research Institute, ed., Kosa (Yellow sands) (Tokyo: Koki Shoin, 1991) (in Japanese).

(45.) Satoshi Kadowaki, "Silicon and Aluminum in Urban Aerosols for Characterization of Atmospheric Soil Particles in the Nagoya Area," Environmental Science and Technology 13, no. 9 (1979): 1130-1133; Akira Mizohata and Tetsuo Mamuro, "Kosa earozoru ni kansum ni, san no chiken" (Some information about Loess aerosol over Japan), Taiki Osen Gakkaishi (Journal of Japanese Society of Air Pollution) 13, no. 7 (1978): 289-297 (in Japanese); S. Tsunogai et al., "Chemical Composition of Oceanic Aerosol," Journal of Geophysical Research 77, no. 27 (1972): 5283-5292.

(46.) Wilkening, Acid Rain Science and Politics in Japan.

(47.) Young-Soo Chang, Richard L. Arndt, and Gregory R. Carmichael, "Mineral Base-Cation Deposition in Asia," Atmospheric Environment 30, no. 13 (1996): 2417-2427.

(48.) "Acidic Sand from Mainland May Destroy Soil, Experts Say," Japan Times, October, 2001, p. 2; Masataka Nishikawa et al., "Kosa Aerosol as Eolian Carrier of Anthropogenic Material," Science of the Total Environment 107 (1991): 13-27.

(49.) Asian Development Bank, Regional Master Plan for the Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia (vol. 1); The Establishment of a Regional Monitoring and Early Warning Network for Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia (vol. 2); An Investment Strategy for DSS Prevention and Control Through Demonstration Projects (vol. 3) (Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2005).

(50.) J. T. Merrill, M. Uematsu, and R. Bleck, "Meteorological Analysis of Long Range Transport of Mineral Aerosols over the North Pacific," Journal of Geophysical Research 94 (1989): 8584-8598; D. A. Braaten and T. A. Cahill, "Size and Composition of Asian Dust Transported to Hawaii," Atmospheric Environment 20 (1986): 1105-1109; J. R. Parrington, W. H. Zoller, and N. K. Aras, "Asian Dust: Seasonal Transport to the Hawaiian Islands," Science 220 (1983): 195-197; Mitsuo Uematsu et al., "Transport of Mineral Aerosol from Asia over the North Pacific Ocean," Journal of Geophysical Research 88, no. C9 (1983): 5343-5352; R. A. Duce et al., "Long-Range Atmospheric Transport of Soil Dust from Asia to the Tropical North Pacific: Temporal Variability," Science 209 (1980): 1522-1524; G. E. Shaw, "Transport of Asian Desert Aerosol to the Hawaiian Islands," Journal of Applied Meteorology 19 (1980): 1254-1259; Tsunogai et al., "Chemical Composition of Oceanic Aerosol."

(51.) R. B. Husar et al., "Asian Dust Events of April 1998," Journal of Geophysical Research 106, no. D16 (2001): 18317-18330.

(52.) Gary Polakovic, "Asia's Wind-Borne Pollution a Hazardous Export to U.S.," Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2002, p. Al; Kelly St. John, "Bay Skies to Come Alive with the Dust of China," San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2002, p. A8; Ann Schrader, "Latest Import from China: Haze," Denver Post, April 18, 2001, p. Al.

(53.) John H. Seinfeld et al., "ACE-Asia: Regional Climatic and Atmospheric Chemical Effects of Asian Dust and Pollution," Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 85, no. 3 (2004): 367-380; Barry J. Huebert et al., "An Overview of ACE-Asia: Strategies for Quantifying the Relationships Between Asian Aerosols and Their Climatic Impacts," Journal of Geophysical Research 108, no. D23 (2003): 8633 (DOI:8610.1029/2003JD003550).

(54.) Richard A. VanCuren et al., "Asian Continental Aerosol Persistence Above the Marine Boundary Layer over the Eastern North Pacific: Continuous Aerosol Measurements from Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation 2002 (ITCT 2k2)," Journal of Geophysical Research 110, no. D09S90 (2005) (DOI:10.1029/2004JD004973); Richard A. VanCuren and Thomas A. Cahill, "Asian Aerosols in North America: Frequency and Concentration of Fine Dust," Journal of Geophysical Research 107, no. D24 (2002): 4804-4819.

(55.) VanCuren and Cahill, "Asian Aerosols in North America," p. 4818.

(56.) US Environmental Protection Agency, "Impact of April 2001 Asian Dust Event."

(57.) F. J. Dentener et al., "Role of Mineral Aerosol as a Reactive Surface in the Global Troposphere," Journal of Geophysical Research 101, no. D17 (1996): 22869-22889.

Ken Wilkening is an assistant professor in the International Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. He was trained in the sciences but now conducts social science research on the relationship between science and international environmental problem solving, especially in the Asia and Pacific region. He is author of Acid Rain Science and Policy in Japan (2004). His current focus is intercontinental transport of air pollutants.
Table 1 Matrix of Influence in the Asia and Pacific Region:
Science and Nonscience Factors

Factor Northeast Asia North America

Science (1) (3)
 * subtle impacts science influence science influence
 * climate change in East Asia in North America
 * public health
 * local PM standards
 * background visibility
 * technological equipment
 * pollutant transport
 * microbe transport
 * ecosystem change
 * non-impact-related factors

Nonscience (2) (4)
 * obvious impacts nonscience nonscience
 * non-impact-related factors influence in influence in
 East Asia North America

Table 2 Rate of Desertification in China, 1970-2000

Time Period ([km.sup.2]/yr)

1970s 1,560
1980s 2,100
mid-1990s 2,460
late 1990s 3,436

Sources: Qi Lu et al., "Dust-Sand Storms Disaster and Its Mitigation
Strategies in China," paper presented at the Sino-US Workshop on Dust
Storms and Their Effect on Human Health, Raleigh, NC, November 25-26.
2002; CCICCD, China National Report on the Implementation of the
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and National
Action Programme to Combat Desertification.

Table 3 Record of "Strong" Dust Storms in China, 1950-2001

Year(s) Number of Storms

1950s 5
1960s 8
1970s 13
1980s 14
1990s 23
2000 12
2001 32

Sources: Kebin Zhang, Weixi Yang, and Xiaohui Yang, "Combating
Strategies for Desertification and Sandstorm in China." paper
presented at the Sino-US Workshop on Dust Storms and Their Effect
on Human Health, Raleigh, NC, November 25-26, 2002; CCICCD, China
National Report on the Implementation of the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification and National Action Programme
to Combat Desertification.

Table 4 Science and Nonscience Factors Influencing International
Cooperation on the Dust-Desertification Problem

 China Mongolia Korea

Nonscience factors

Obvious impacts X X X
 (health, property (severe) (severe?) (significant)
 damage, agriculture
 productivity, etc.)
Capacity (financial, X X X
 technological) (lack) (severe (abundant)
Concern over X X X
 regional environ-
 mental degradation
Olympics X o o
Economic competition 0 o X
Historical context x o x

Science ftzetors

Capacity (scientific) X X X
 (lack) (severe (abundant)
Veil of scientific X X X
Subtle impacts X X X
 climate change
 public health X X X
 local air quality X X X

 background o o o
 technological X x X
 enhanced pollutant X o X
 hitchhiker microbes o o o
 ecosystems o o o

 Japan Canada States

Nonscience factors

Obvious impacts x o o
 (health, property (light)
 damage, agriculture
 productivity, etc.)
Capacity (financial, X x x
 technological) (abundant) (abundant) (abundant)

Concern over X x x
 regional environ-
 mental degradation
Olympics o o o
Economic competition X o x
Historical context x o o

Science ftzetors

Capacity (scientific) X x x
 (abundant) (abundant) (abundant)

Veil of scientific X x x
Subtle impacts X X X
 climate change
 public health o o o
 local air quality x X X
 standards (West (West
 Coast) Coast)
 background o o x
 technological x o o
 enhanced pollutant X x x
 hitchhiker microbes o o o
 ecosystems o o o

Notes: X = significant influence; x = minor influence; o = little
or no influence.
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Author:Wilkening, Ken
Publication:Journal of East Asian Studies
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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