• Aeolian transport;
  • field study;
  • transport rate

[1] Aeolian transport represents the result of wind–surface interactions, and therefore depends strongly on variations in the characteristics of the sediment surface. We conducted field observations of aeolian transport of typical dune sand in three 80 m × 80 m plots with different surface treatments: gravel-covered sand, enclosed shifting sand, and open (unprotected) shifting sand. The study was performed at the Shapotou Aeolian Experiment Site in the southeastern part of China's Tengger Desert to compare the effects of these different surface treatments on aeolian transport. To do so, we analyzed the flux density profiles and transport rates above each surface. The flux density profiles for all three treatments followed the exponential decay law that was proposed by most previous researchers to describe the saltation flux density profiles. Coefficients of the exponential decay function were defined as a function of the surface and the wind velocity. The enclosed and open plots with shifting sand had similar flux density profiles, but the flux density above gravel-covered plots showed that transport decayed more slowly with increasing height, producing flux density profiles with a higher average saltation height. The transport rate above the three treatment plots tended to increase proportionally with the cube of the mean wind velocity and with the maximum wind velocity during the observation period, but was more strongly correlated with the square of drift potential. Transport rates above the plot with open shifting sand were greater than those above the plots with enclosed shifting sand and the gravel-covered plot.