Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
© 2014 American Geophysical Union
Impact Factor: 3.44
ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 24/173 (Geosciences Multidisciplinary)
Online ISSN: 2169-9011
Associated Title(s): Journal of Geophysical Research
Trees, more than shrubs, protect against soil erosion
Soil erosion and saltation—the transport of ground particles by wind—are significant producers of dust and can damage crops or lead to nutrient-poor soil in semi-arid regions. These regions are particularly vulnerable to climate warming and increased human activity, which can exacerbate erosion and induce dustbowl-like conditions. Previous research and observations have shown that vegetation such as shrubs and trees can reduce soil erosion, but existing models do not account for variations in wind direction or strength.
Dupont et al. used a previously existing saltation model and combined it with a wind flow prediction system to simulate the effects of saltation on land sparsely vegetated with shrubs and trees. The authors found that saltation and erosion were reduced by vegetation, which confirmed existing models, but also that placement of trees and shrubs in relation to wind direction can influence the extent of reduction. They also found that trees are better at reducing the effects of saltation than shrubs. The authors note that this new model can be applied to more complex landscapes, where simpler models may not be as precise.