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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Yellow Lake Experiment

Author
item Stout, John

Submitted to: International Conference on Aeolian Research
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 12, 2002
Publication Date: July 22, 2003
Citation: Stout, J. E., Lee, J.A. and Zobeck, T.M., The Yellow Lake Experiment. 2002, Proceedings of ICAR5/GCTE-SEN Joint Conference, International Center for Arid and Semiarid Land Studies, July 22-25, 2002, Lubbock, Texas. p. 191-194.

Interpretive Summary: Little attention has been paid to natural dust sources on the Southern High Plains due to the fact that agricultural sources far outnumber natural sources. There are, however, numerous natural dust sources on the Southern High Plains that are large enough to influence regional ambient air quality. In terms of surface area, the numerous saline playas are among the largest natural dust sources in the region and they have been observed to emit plumes that extend large distances downwind from the playa surface. This report is based upon a multi-year investigation of blowing dust at Yellow Lake, a saline playa located in the Yellow House Basin northwest of Lubbock, Texas. Results indicate that dust emissions peak during winter when winds are strong and dry conditions prevail and, despite strong spring winds, the playa is stable during spring when rainfall is more plentiful. This contrasts sharply with the surrounding agricultural lands that tend to be most active during spring.

Technical Abstract: The Southern High Plains, located in northwestern Texas and far eastern New Mexico, is often described as a tableland ¿ a flat, elevated plateau with a surface area of 78,000 square kilometers. Spaced across this vast and otherwise featureless plain are approximately 21 large closed basins containing irregularly shaped saline playas. Yellow Lake, located on the Yellow House Ranch west of Anton, Texas, is a typical High Plains saline playa. Measuring 4.4 km in length by 0.9 km wide, the playa covers a total area of approximately 3.5 square kilometers. Maximum water depth rarely exceeds 50 cm and it often dries out completely for extended periods during which time the playa surface is subject to aeolian deflation. This paper represents a preliminary report of a multi-year study of saltation activity at Yellow Lake using fast-response piezoelectric saltation sensors. Since saltation activity is often associated with dust emissions, the saltation record also provides information regarding seasonal patterns of dust emissions from the Yellow House Basin. The results indicate that saltation activity and dust emissions typically peak during winter when precipitation is minimum and winds are moderately strong.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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