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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #357739

Research Project: Management Technologies for Conservation of Western Rangelands

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Climate change impacts on wind and water erosion on US rangelands

Author
item Edwards, Brandon - New Mexico State University
item Webb, Nicholas - New Mexico State University
item Brown, David
item Elias, Emile
item Peck, Dannele
item Pierson, Fred
item Williams, Christopher - Jason
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil erosion on rangelands can impact rangeland health and poses hazards to human health and communities. Understanding how future climate change may impact soil erosion is important for developing appropriate management strategies that mitigate negative impacts, potentially build resilience, and benefit land users. Here, we review potential impacts of climate change on controls of erosion in US rangelands and discuss potential erosion responses. Projected climate changes are expected to have regionally variable effects on important controls of erosion, especially vegetation cover; community composition; frequency, magnitude, and geographical range of fire disturbance; and high intensity, erosive weather events, all of which have the potential to increase vulnerability to erosion. We recommend using existing monitoring data to create regional assessments of vulnerability, that soil erosion indicators should be included in management decision support, and that flexible, no-regrets management options be implemented now in anticipation of future change.

Technical Abstract: Soil erosion by water and wind in US rangelands has serious implications for rangeland health, food security, and poses significant hazards to human health and communities. Accordingly, understanding how future climate change may impact soil erosion is critical for developing appropriate management strategies that mitigate negative impacts to the extent practical and potentially build resilience. Here, we review potential impacts of climate change on controls of erosion in US rangelands and discuss potential erosion responses. Projected climate changes are expected to have regionally variable effects on important controls of erosion, especially vegetation cover; community composition; frequency, magnitude, and geographical range of fire disturbance; and high intensity, erosive weather events, all of which have the potential to increase rangeland vulnerability to erosion. We identify knowledge gaps relevant to these controls and discuss management considerations to address climate change impacts to soil erosion concerns for US rangelands. We recommend using existing monitoring data to create assessments of vulnerability, that soil erosion should be explicitly included in management benchmarks and decision support tools, and that no-regrets management options be implemented in anticipation of future impacts, which can improve resilience and the efficacy of climate change adaptation.