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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (2): 205-218    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0198-3
Research Articles     
Estimation of the quantity of aeolian saltation sediments blown into the Yellow River from the Ulanbuh Desert, China
HeQiang DU*, Xian XUE, Tao WANG
Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Abstract  The Ulanbuh Desert borders the upper reach of the Yellow River. Every year, a mass of aeolian sand is blown into the Yellow River by the prevailing wind and the coarse aeolian sand results in serious silting in the Yellow River. To estimate the quantity of aeolian sediments from the Ulanbuh Desert blown into the Yellow River, we simulated the saltation processes of aeolian sediments in the Ulanbuh Desert. Then we used a saltation submodel of the IWEMS (Integrated Wind-Erosion Modeling System) and its accompanying RS (Remote Sensing) and GIS (Geographic Information System) modules to estimate the quantity of saltation sediments blown into the Yellow River from the Ulanbuh Desert. We calibrated the saltation submodel by the synchronous observation to wind velocity and saltation sediments on several points with different vegetation cover. The vegetation cover, frontal area of vegetation, roughness length, and threshold friction velocity in various regions of the Ulanbuh Desert were obtained using NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data, measured sand-particle sizes, and empirical relationships among vegetation cover, sand-particle diameters, and wind velocity. Using these variables along with the observed wind velocities and saltation sediments for the observed points, the saltation model was validated. The model results were shown to be satisfactory (RMSE less than 0.05 and |Re| less than 17%). In this study, a subdaily wind-velocity program, WINDGEN, was developed using this model to simulate hourly wind velocities around the Ulanbuh Desert. By incorporating simulated hourly wind-velocity and wind-direction data, the quantity of saltation sediments blown into the Yellow River was calculated with the saltation submodel. The annual quantity of aeolian sediments blown into the Yellow River from the Ulanbuh Desert was 5.56×106 t from 2001 to 2010, most of which occurred in spring (from March to May); for example, 6.54×105 tons of aeolian sand were blown into the Yellow River on 25 April, 2010. However, in summer and winter, the saltation process occasionally occurred. This research has supplied some references to prevent blown sand hazards and silting in the Yellow River.

Received: 08 January 2013      Published: 10 April 2014

This work was financially supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2011CB403306).

Corresponding Authors: Tao WANG     E-mail:
Cite this article:

HeQiang DU, Xian XUE, Tao WANG. Estimation of the quantity of aeolian saltation sediments blown into the Yellow River from the Ulanbuh Desert, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(2): 205-218.

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