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Research Project: Improving Air Quality, Soil Health and Nutrient Use Efficiency to Increase Northwest Agroecosystem Performance

Location: Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research

Title: Windblown sediment transport and loss in a desert–oasis ecotone in the Tarim Basin

item PI, HUAWEI - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item Sharratt, Brenton
item LEI, JIANGQIANG - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/22/2017
Publication Date: 8/10/2017
Citation: Pi, H., Sharratt, B.S., Lei, J. 2017. Windblown sediment transport and loss in a desert–oasis ecotone in the Tarim Basin. Scientific Reports. 7:7723. https://doi:10.1038/s41598-017-04971-4.

Interpretive Summary: The Tarim Basin in northwest China is one of the dustiest places on Earth. Windblown dust emitted from this basin impacts air quality not only in eastern China, but also in the USA. Dust emissions have been well characterized from the Taklamakan Desert, which occupies 35% of the basin, but little is known concerning the magnitude of dust emissions from the desert-oasis ecosystem that protects the integrity of the irrigated oasis of the Tarim Basin. Significant sediment transport occurred within the desert-oasis and exceeded that observed for other land use types in China and the USA. Our findings justify the importance of China-USA relations and international scientific collaborations in developing and implementing practices to control wind erosion and thus guarantee ecological security of the desert-oasis ecotone and improve international air quality.

Technical Abstract: The Tarim Basin is regarded as one of the most highly erodible areas in China. Desert comprises 64% of the land use in the Basin, but the desert–oasis ecotone plays a prominent role in maintaining oasis ecological security and stability. Yet, little is known concerning the magnitude of windblown sediment transport in a desert-oasis ecotone. Therefore, aeolian sediment transport and loss was assessed from a desert-oasis experimental site located near Alaer City in the northwestern Tarim Basin. Sediment transport and factors governing transport were measured during three high wind events in 2012 and four events in 2013. Sediment transport was measured to a height of 10 m using passive aeolian airborne sediment samplers. The mass flux profile over the eroding surface was well represented by the power-law (R2>0.77). Sediment loss from the site ranged from 118 g m-2 for the 20-24Apr 2012 wind event to 2925 g m-2 for the 31Mar-11Apr 2012 event. Suspension accounted for 67.4 to 84.8% of sediment loss across all high wind events. Our results indicate the severity of wind erosion in a desert-oasis ecotone and thus encourage adoption of management practices that will enhance oasis ecological security.