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Five Decades of Wind-Induced Erosion within Chinese Drylands

Paper Reviewed
Yang, F. and Lu, C. 2016. Assessing changes in wind erosion climatic erosivity in China's dryland region during 1961-2012.

In the words of Yang and Lu (2016), "wind erosion is a major environmental problem in dryland areas, which causes land degradation (Funk et al., 2004; Lal, 1993) and affects regional development (Yang et al., 2005)." Consequently, they felt it was important to evaluate the intensity of wind erosion and its response to recent climate changes of the past half-century or so. And what did this work reveal?

The two Chinese researchers report that when all was said and done "more than 90% of the region showed a significantly decreasing trend in annual climatic erosivity during 1961-2012, with a small area mainly distributed in the southwestern Loess Plateau showing an increasing trend," such that "for the entire region, the mean annual erosivity declined significantly by 1.39% per year," while "for the arid, semi-arid and sub-humid zone, it deceased by 0.53%, 1.87% and 1.89% per year, respectively."

Continuing, Yang and Lu write that "wind speed was the most sensitive and determinant factor of climatic erosivity," and that "the regional mean wind speed was decreased by 24.4% during 1961-2012," which decline "reduced the erosivity by 58.2%." And that's a climate change that most people would likely consider to be extremely positive.

Funk, R., Skidmore, E.L. and Hagen, L.J. 2004. Comparison of wind erosion measurements in Germany with simulated soil losses by WEPS. Environmental Modelling & Software 19: 177-183.

Lal, R. 1993.Tillage effects on soil degradation, soil resilience, soil quality, and sustainability: Introduction. Soil & Tillage Research 27: 1-8.

Yang, X., Zhang, K., Jia, B. and Ci., L. 2005. Desertification assessment in China: An overview. Journal of Arid Environments 63: 517-531.

Posted 15 December 2016