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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337905

Title: Tracer techniques in aeolian research: Approaches, applications, and challenges

item WANG, GUAN - University Of Tulsa
item LI, JUNRAN - University Of Tulsa
item RAVI, SUJITH - Temple University
item Van Pelt, Robert - Scott
item COSTA, PEDRO - University Of Lisbon
item DUKES, DAVID - Temple University

Submitted to: Earth-Science Reviews
Publication Type: Literature Review
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/5/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The development of techniques to study wind erosion has, in general, lagged behind those developed to study water erosion. During the last two decades, several new tracer techniques to quantify temporal and spatial patterns of soil redistribution by wind have emerged in the literature. We have reviewed the pertinent literature and present the current state of the art with respect to the use of natural and anthropogenic tracers to study the temporal and spatial patterns of soil redistribution by wind.

Technical Abstract: Aeolian processes, the entrainment, transport and deposition of sediments by wind, impacts climate, biogeochemical cycles, food security, environmental quality and human health. Considering the multitude of interactions between aeolian processes and all the major components of the Earth system, there is a growing interest in the scientific community to quantify the wind-related sediment movement process and redistribution rates at different spatial and temporal scales. However, this quantification is rather challenging, due to the complexities of physical mechanisms involved in aeolian processes and the inherent fundamental differences from the rather well-studied processes controlling fluvial erosion. Traditional techniques, such as erosion plots and surveying methods for monitoring wind erosion, are capable of quantifying sediment movement on small scales but they have a number of limitations in terms of the representativeness of the data obtained, spatial and temporal resolution and the patterns over extended areas, and the costs involved. The demand for alternative methods of soil loss and sediment redistribution assessment, in order to complement and enhance the existing methods, has directed attention to use tracing approaches for monitoring rates and spatial patterns of sediment redistribution at various scales. The objective of this paper is to provide a scientific review of the current tracer approaches in aeolian studies, including fallout radionuclides, rare earth elements, sediment finger printing and soil magnetism, as well as giving an introduction of the potential tracers that are in development.