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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (7): 827-841    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0021-8
Research article     
Morphological change and migration of revegetated dunes in the Ketu Sandy Land of the Qinghai Lake, China
WU Wangyang1,2, ZHANG Dengshan2, TIAN Lihui2,*(), SHEN Tingting1, GAO Bin1, YANG Dehui1
1School of Earth Sciences, East China University of Technology, Nanchang 330013, China
2State Key Laboratory of Plateau Ecology and Agriculture, Qinghai University, Xining 810016, China
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Alpine revegetated dunes have been barely researched in terms of morphological change and migration within its regional aeolian environments. To reveal the sand-fixing and land-reforming mechanisms of artificial vegetation, we observed the morphology and migration of four dunes with four revegetated types (Hippophae rhamnoides Linn., Salix cheilophila Schneid., Populus simonii Carr., and Artemisia desertorum Spreng.) using unpiloted aerial vehicle images and GPS (global positioning system) mapping in 2009 and 2018. Spatial analysis of GIS (geographic information system) revealed that the revegetated dunes exhibited a steady progression from barchan dune shapes to dome or ribbons shapes mainly through knap planation, wing amplification, and slope symmetrization. Generally, conditions of northern aspects, smaller slope degree, and larger altitude of unvegetated dunes would suffer more serious wind erosion. The southward movement of dune wings with a migration speed of 2.0-5.0 m/a and the alternating motion of sand ridges in eastwestern directions led greater stability in revegetated dunes. The moving distances of revegetated dunes remarkably changed in patterns of quadratic or linear function with depositional depth. Compared with unvegetated dunes, the near-surface wind velocity of revegetated dunes decreased by 20%-30%, which led to heavy accumulation in low-flat dunes and erosion in high-steep dunes, but all vegetation species produced obvious sand-fixing benefits (100%-450% and 3%-140% in the lower and higher dune scales of revegetated dunes, respectively) with decreasing sand transport rates and increasing coverages. In practice, the four vegetation species effectively anchored mobile dunes by adapting to regional aeolian environment. However, future revegetation efforts should consider optimizing dune morphology by utilizing H. rhamnoides as a pioneer plant, S. cheilophila and P. microphylla in windward and northward dune positions, and A. desertorum in a sand accumulative southward position. Also, we should adjust afforestation structure and replant some shrub or herbs in the higher revegetated dunes to prevent fixed dune activation and southward expansion.

Key wordsartificial vegetation      dune morphology      migration      aeolian factor      species difference     
Received: 31 January 2023      Published: 31 July 2023
Corresponding Authors: *TIAN Lihui (E-mail:
Cite this article:

WU Wangyang, ZHANG Dengshan, TIAN Lihui, SHEN Tingting, GAO Bin, YANG Dehui. Morphological change and migration of revegetated dunes in the Ketu Sandy Land of the Qinghai Lake, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 827-841.

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Fig. 1 Location of study area (a) and design of sample dunes (b and c) in the Ketu Sandy Land of the Qinghai Lake, China. Hr-1, Hr-2, and Hr-3, H. rhamnoides dunes; Sc-1, Sc-2, and Sc-3, S. cheilophila dunes; Ps-1, Ps-2, and Ps-3, P. sylvestris dunes; Ad-1, Ad-2, and Ad-3, A. desertorum dunes; CK-1 and CK-2, reference sand dunes. The abbreviations are the same in the following tables and figures.
Sample dune Altitude
Dune height (m) Dune shape Sample area (hm2) Slope degree (°) Dune scale Soil density (g/cm3) Vegetation density (individuals/hm2)
Hr-1 3186.17 8.17 Barchan 2.89 <5 Low-flat 1.57 4500
Hr-2 3188.13 10.13 Barchan chain 2.64 5-10 Medium 1.69 4500
Hr-3 3190.11 13.00 Barchan chain 1.29 10-15 High-steep 1.58 4500
Sc-1 3183.38 5.38 Barchan 1.66 5-15 Low-flat 1.52 4500
Sc-2 3186.31 8.31 Barchan 0.77 10-15 Medium 1.62 2500
Sc-3 3189.89 11.89 Barchan 0.66 >25 High-steep 1.63 3250
Ps-1 3189.15 11.15 Beam dune 1.14 5-10 Medium 1.57 2500
Ps-2 3189.21 11.21 Barchan 1.07 10-15 Medium 1.59 2500
Ps-3 3195.64 17.64 Barchan chain 2.15 >25 High-steep 1.74 2500
Ad-1 3184.90 7.80 Barchan 1.07 <5 Low-flat 1.51 50,000
Ad-2 3185.92 7.92 Barchan chain 0.49 5-15 Low-flat 1.60 2500
Ad-3 3188.31 10.31 Barchan 0.63 >25 Medium 1.61 4500
CK-1 3189.90 11.90 Barchan 0.37 <5 Medium 1.55 0
CK-2 3192.28 14.28 Barchan chain 1.48 5-10 High-steep 1.55 0
Table 1 Basic condition of each sample dune investigated in 2009
Fig. 2 Area (A) and volume (V) of the sample dunes in 2009 and 2018
Fig. 3 Dune morphology parameters of height (a), slope degree (b), aspect (c), and length (d) in 2009 and 2018. H0, S0, D0, and L0 are the values of dunes ridge of absolute height, slope degree, aspect, and length, respectively; H1, S1, D1, and L1 are the values of westerly slope of relative height, slope degree, aspect, and length, respectively; H2, S2, D2, and L2 are the values of westerly slope of relative height, slope degree, aspect, and length, respectively.
Fig. 4 Changes and spatial distributions of deposition depth (a), slope degree (b), aspect (d), and sand ridge (d) of all sample dunes from 2009 to 2018
Fig. 5 Aeolian features of sample dunes. (a), Wi (yearly deposition intensity) and TR (sand transport rate); (b), Vm (wind velocity of base point), Vt (wind velocity of sand-driving), and z0 (surface roughness).
Fig. 6 Relationships of sand deposition depth between original altitude (a-e) and slope degree, and between original aspect and slope degree (f-j) of each sample dune
Fig. 7 Best fitting curves of sand deposition depth and migration distance of southward (a) and eastward (b) directions
Sample dune Moving direction Linear fitting equation R2 t-test P Quadratic fitting equation R2 t-test P
Hr Southward y=3.63x+18.28 0.816 4.716 0.005 y= -0.60x2+4.49x+19.12 0.831 2.647 0.057
Westward y= -3.29x+12.39 0.146 0.858 0.397 y=6.65x2-1.07x+3.42 0.838 5.622 0.039
Sc Southward y= -2.73x+30.77 0.508 -0.605 0.567 y=3.24x2+2.72x+14.44 0.790 -3.925 0.011
Westward y= -1.48x+13.63 0.088 0.481 0.519 y=2.99x2-2.10x+7.54 0.870 13.357 0.017
Ps Southward y= -4.60x+31.92 0.807 -5.001 0.002 y=1.01x2-5.01x+27.93 0.851 -5.294 0.003
Westward y=11.15x+29.10 0.434 3.072 0.155 y=10.57x2+6.96x+11.86 0.920 17.316 0.023
Ad Southward y=6.25x+21.92 0.578 2.615 0.047 y=2.97x2-6.17x+12.12 0.793 1.087 0.038
Westward y=5.28x+12.70 0.813 13.051 0.036 y=2.87x2+3.84x+ 8.00 0.939 15.467 0.031
Table 2 Linear and quadratic fitting equations and significance test
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