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Simulated soil erosion from a semiarid typical steppe watershed using an integrated aeolian and fluvial prediction model

Authors

  • Xixi Wang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
    2. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
    • Correspondence to: Xixi Wang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0241, USA.

      E-mail: xxqqwang@gmail.com

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  • Tingxi Liu,

    1. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
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  • Fengling Li,

    1. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
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  • Ruizhong Gao,

    1. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
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  • Xiaomin Yang,

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
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  • Limin Duan,

    1. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
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  • Yanyun Luo,

    1. College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
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  • Rui Li

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
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Abstract

Total soil erosion is a result of both aeolian and fluvial processes, which is particularly true in semiarid regions. However, although physically interrelated, these two processes have conventionally been studied and modelled independently. Recently, a few researchers highlighted the importance and need of considering both processes in concert as well as their interactions, but they did not give specific modelling approaches or algorithms. The objectives of this study were to (1) formulate an integrated aeolian and fluvial prediction (IAFP) model, (2) parameterize the IAFP model for a semiarid steppe watershed located in northeastern China by using literature and historical data and (3) use the model to predict soil erosion in the watershed and assess the sensitivity of predicted erosion to environmental factors such as soil moisture and vegetation coverage. The results indicated that the IAFP model can capture the dynamic interactions between aeolian and fluvial erosion processes. For the study watershed, the model predicted a higher occurrence frequency of fluvial erosion than that of aeolian erosion and showed that these two processes almost equivalently contributed to the average total erosion of 0.07 mm year−1 across the simulation period. The ‘existing’ vegetation cover can provide an overall good protection of the soils, although the vegetation cover was predicted to play a larger role in a drier than a wetter year as well as in controlling aeolian than fluvial erosion. In addition, soil erosion was predicted to be more sensitive to soil moisture than land coverage. A soil moisture level of 0.23–0.25 was determined to be the probable switch point from aeolian-to fluvial-dominant process or vice versa. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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