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Keywords:

  • dust;
  • land degradation;
  • semiarid;
  • soil erosion;
  • wind;
  • water

Abstract

Aeolian and fluvial processes play a fundamental role in dryland regions of the world and have important environmental and ecological consequences from local to global scales. Although both processes operate over similar spatial and temporal scales and are likely strongly coupled in many dryland systems, aeolian and fluvial processes have traditionally been studied separately, making it difficult to assess their relative importance in drylands, as well as their potential for synergistic interaction. Land degradation by accelerated wind and water erosion is a major problem throughout the world's drylands, and although recent studies suggest that these processes likely interact across broad spatial and temporal scales to amplify the transport of soil resources from and within drylands, many researchers and land managers continue to view them as separate and unrelated processes. Here, we illustrate how aeolian and fluvial sediment transport is coupled at multiple spatial and temporal scales and highlight the need for these interrelated processes to be studied from a more integrated perspective that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. Special attention is given to how the growing threat of climate change and land-use disturbance will influence linkages between aeolian and fluvial processes in the future. We also present emerging directions for interdisciplinary needs within the aeolian and fluvial research communities that call for better integration across a broad range of traditional disciplines such as ecology, biogeochemistry, agronomy, and soil conservation. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.