Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drier conditions projected to accelerate dust storms in the southwest

Date:
February 28, 2011
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Drier conditions projected to result from climate change in the Southwest will likely reduce perennial vegetation cover and result in increased dust storm activity in the future, according to a new study.

Dust storm looking east toward Arches National Park, which is 10 miles north of Moab, Utah.
Credit: USGS

Drier conditions projected to result from climate change in the Southwest will likely reduce perennial vegetation cover and result in increased dust storm activity in the future, according to a new study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Related Articles


The research team examined climate, vegetation and soil measurements collected over a 20-year period in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southeastern Utah. Long-term data indicated that perennial vegetation in grasslands and some shrublands declined with temperature increases. The study then used these soil and vegetation measurements in a model to project future wind erosion.

The findings strongly suggest that sustained drought conditions across the Southwest will accelerate loss of grasses and some shrubs and increase the likelihood of dust production on disturbed soil surfaces in the future. However, the community of cyanobacteria, mosses and lichens that hold the soil together in many semiarid and arid environments -- biological soil crusts -- prevented wind erosion from occurring at most sites despite reductions in perennial vegetation.

"Accelerated rates of dust emission from wind erosion have large implications for natural systems and human well-being, so developing a better understanding of how climate change may affect wind erosion in arid landscapes is an important and emerging area of research," said Seth Munson, a USGS ecologist and the study's lead author.

Dust carried by the wind has received recent attention because of its far-reaching effects, including the loss of nutrients and water-holding capacity from source landscapes, declines in agricultural productivity and health and safety concerns. Dust is also a contributing factor in speeding up the melting of snow, which affects the timing and magnitude of runoff into streams and rivers.

Peak wind speeds in the Southwest during the study period generated high rates of sediment transport. Dust storms have been detected by USGS field instrumentation and satellite images.

Results of the study, "Responses of wind erosion to climate-induced vegetation changes on the Colorado Plateau," appear in this week's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research team included Seth Munson and Jayne Belnap, U.S. Geological Survey, Moab, Utah, and Gregory S. Okin, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. M. Munson, J. Belnap, G. S. Okin. Responses of wind erosion to climate-induced vegetation changes on the Colorado Plateau. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014947108

Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Drier conditions projected to accelerate dust storms in the southwest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110225094940.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2011, February 28). Drier conditions projected to accelerate dust storms in the southwest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110225094940.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Drier conditions projected to accelerate dust storms in the southwest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110225094940.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii was 225 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday night. The lava is slowing down but still approaching the village. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins