Based on thermodynamic theory and comprehensive analyses of the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer Aerosol Index, surface micro-pulse LiDAR, meteorological elements in the atmospheric boundary layer, observations of sporadic dust devil, the diurnal and seasonal changes of dust devil are characterized, the contribution to the aerosol budget from dust devils and dusty plumes is quantitatively analyzed. The results show that: 1) dust devils and dusty plumes show obvious diurnal and seasonal variations with a single-peaked distribution; 2) thermodynamic efficiency can effectively account for the daily variations of dust devils and dusty plumes from morning to early afternoon, seasonal changes of dust devil activity in summer. The future improved thermodynamic efficiency could be applied to their parameterization; 3) dust devils and dusty plumes may contribute more than 53% of annual total dust aerosols over desert regions in western China,but the calculated contributions have uncertainties. It will be helpful to understand the dust devil and dusty plume contributions to global and regional aerosol loading. 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.