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10 June 2014, Volume 6 Issue 3 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research Articles
Aeolian transport over a developing transverse dune
ZhiBao DONG, Ping LV, ZhengCai ZHANG, JunFeng LU
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 243-254.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0243-2
Abstract ( 2136 )     PDF (312KB) ( 2461 )  
The spatial and temporal changes in aeolian transport over a dune are fundamental factors that control the morphology of the dune. In the present study, we obtained direct field observations of aeolian transport over a developing transverse dune at the Shapotou Aeolian Experiment Site in the southeastern part of China's Tengger Desert. The transport rate versus wind speed relationship is complicated over a developing dune compared with the relationships over flat surfaces and over dunes that are in equilibrium with the wind. We obtained trend lines for transport rate over the transverse dune versus distance. The transport rate generally increased from the toe to the crest above the stoss slope, but the difference in transport rate between the crest and the toe was smaller than those that have been proposed for taller dunes. The crest/toe ratio for transport rates therefore seems to depend greatly on dune height. Flux density profiles for different points above the dune at different wind speeds were well described by the exponential decay law, as has been proposed for saltation flux density profiles. Coefficients in the flux density profile function can be defined in terms of the transport rate and wind speed. However, the dependence of relative decay rate with height and average saltation height on wind speed was weaker than that observed in a wind tunnel and above a flat surface. The preliminary results obtained in this study require more evidence from field observations to fully describe aeolian transport above developing dunes.
Quantitative analysis on the dynamic characteristics of megadunes around the Crescent Moon Spring, China
YingJun PANG, JianJun QU, KeCun ZHANG, ZhiShan AN, QingHe NIU
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 255-263.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0245-0
Abstract ( 1741 )     PDF (487KB) ( 1975 )  
The Crescent Moon Spring is a precious natural heritage. However, the dynamic characteristics of megadunes around the Crescent Moon Spring are not well known. This paper quantitatively studied the character-istics and changes of megadunes around the Crescent Moon Spring by interpreting aerial photographs taken in 1985 and 2004 and analysing the dune crestlines and the wind data collected from 2011 to 2012. Results revealed that pyramid dunes were formed by a complex wind regime. The Crescent Moon Spring was not buried by shifting sands because of the stable wind regime and relative stability of pyramid dunes. The crestlines of the dunes around the spring moved northward between 1985 and 2004. The south-facing slip faces were also exposed to wind ero-sion, whereas the other faces were under deposition, thus indicating that the southerly wind was relatively en-hanced. Limiting the scale of tall windbreaks and architectures in the Dunhuang oasis at the north of the spring was necessary to maintain the dynamic equilibrium of the wind regime and sand transport.
Evaluation of groundwater sustainability based on groundwater age simulation in the Zhangye Basin of Heihe River watershed, northwestern China
Heng WEI, HongLang XIAO, ZhenLiang YIN, ZhiXiang LU
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 264-272.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0210-y
Abstract ( 1805 )     PDF (323KB) ( 2857 )  
Water resources, as the primary limiting factor, constrain the economic and social development in arid inland areas. The Zhangye Basin is a representative area of inland river basins, which is located in the middle parts of the Heihe River watershed, northwestern China. Facing with the huge water shortage, people exploited ground-water at a large scale in recent years. The reducing recharge from surface water and over-exploitation of ground-water led to the decline of groundwater levels and threatened the sustainability of water resources. This study constructed a conceptual and numerical groundwater flow model and calibrated the model based on the observed wells. A solute transport model was built using MT3DMS to calculate the groundwater age distribution in the Zhangye Basin. The simulated result shows that the youngest groundwater is distributed near the most upstream areas in the model domain, which is less than 1,000 a, older groundwater is distributed in deeper parts of the aquifer and near the discharge outlets, ranging from 6,000 a to over 20,000 a. Spatial variation of groundwater ages in the middle area indicates the recharge diversity between unconfined and confined aquifer. Groundwater age can serve as an indicator to evaluate groundwater’s renewal capacity and sustainability. The formation of groundwater resources in the lower stream area would spend 10,000 a or even more than 20,000 a, so exploitation of groundwater in these areas should be restrained.
Impact of land use change on water resource allocation in the middle reaches of the Heihe River Basin in northwestern China
YanYun NIAN, Xin LI, Jian ZHOU, XiaoLi HU
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 273-286.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0209-4
Abstract ( 2168 )     PDF (1241KB) ( 4290 )  
In recent decades, China has been experiencing rapid economic development, population growth and urbanization. These processes have stressed the shortages of water resources in China, especially in the arid re-gions of northwestern China. In order to sustain the expanding cropland, people increased groundwater exploitation in these regions. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively analyze the changes in land use and water re-sources, and their relationship in the middle reaches of the Heihe River Basin, a typical inland river basin in northwest China. The data of land use change were interpreted using aerial photographs (1965) and Landsat TM images (1986 and 2007). The data of irrigation water volume in the irrigation districts were spatialized in the middle reaches of the Heihe River Basin. The spatial variation of the groundwater depth was interpolated using the geo-statistical method. The results showed that the cultivated cropland area along oasis fringe increased by 15.38% and 43.60% during the periods 1965–1986 and 1986–2007, respectively. Surface water amount for irrigation had almost doubled from 1956 to 2010. The decrease of grassland area mainly occurred at the alluvial fan in front of the Qilian Mountains, with 36.47% during 1965–1986 and 38.56% during 1986–2007, respectively. The groundwater depth in front of the mountain constantly increased from 1986 to 2007. We found that the overuse of surface water and overexploitation of groundwater had direct consequences on the natural environments. We suggests that the efficiency of surface water resources use among different irrigation districts needs to be improved, which will sig-nificantly ease the conflicts between increasing water demand for irrigation and a shortage of water resources in the middle reaches of the Heihe River Basin.
Dry/wet climate zoning and delimitation of arid areas of Northwest China based on a data-driven fashion
QingLing GENG, PuTe WU, QingFeng ZHANG, XiNing ZHAO, YuBao WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 287-299.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0206-7
Abstract ( 2411 )     PDF (551KB) ( 2233 )  
The division of arid areas is important in water and land resources management, planning and for a long-term agricultural, economic and social planning. Northwest China (NW) dominates the main arid areas in China. There is thus a need to adopt adequate concepts relative to the scope of arid areas of NW China and identify its climate types and characteristics. In this study, we analyzed climatic data over the last 30 years (1981–2010) from 191 stations in three provinces and three autonomous regions of NW China. The factor-cluster analysis technique (FC), an objective and automated method was employed to classify the dry/wet climate zones. The traditional methods with predefined thresholds were adopted for providing a comparison with FC. The results showed that the wet/dry climate zones by FC were mainly distributed along mountains, rivers and desert borders. Climate-division boundaries relied heavily on the major terrain features surrounding the grouped stations. It also showed that the climate was dry in the plain sandy areas but relatively wet in the high mountain areas. FC method can reflect the climate characteristics more fully in NW China with varied and complicated topography, and outperform the traditional climate classifications. Arid areas of NW China were defined as four climate types, including five resultant classes in FC classifications. The Qinling and Da Hinggan Mountains were two important boundaries, besides main administrative boundaries. The results also indicated that there are some differences between two traditional classifications. The precipitation moved and fluctuated to an extent, which confirmed that climate change played an important role in the dry/wet climate zoning, and the boundaries of dry/wet climate zones might change and migrate with time. This paper is expected to provide a more in-depth understanding on the climate characteristics in arid areas of NW China, and then contribute to formulate reasonable water and land management planning and agricultural production programs.
Soil water repellency and influencing factors of Nitraria tangutorun nebkhas at different succession stages
HaoTian YANG, XinRong LI, LiChao LIU, YanHong GAO, Gang LI, RongLiang JIA
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 300-310.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0199-2
Abstract ( 1888 )     PDF (686KB) ( 1744 )  
Soil water repellency (WR) is an important physical characteristic of soil surface. It is capable of largely influencing the hydrological and geomorphological processes of soil, as well as affecting the ecological processes of plants, such as growth and seed germination, and has thus been a hot topic in recent research around the world. In this paper, the capillary rise method was used to study the soil WR characteristics of Nitraria tangutorun nebkhas. Soil water repellencies at different succession stages of Nitraria tangutorun were investigated, and the relationships between soil WR and soil organic matter, total N, and total P, soil texture, pH, and concentrations of CO32-, HCO3-, Cl-, SO42-, Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ were discussed. Soil WR may be demonstrated at the following nebkhas dune evolvement stages: extremely degrading > degrading > stabilizing > well developed > newly developing > quick sand. Apart from some soil at the bottom, the WR of other soils (crest and slope of dune) was found to be largest at the topsoil, and decreased as the soil depth increased. The results showed that multiple factors affected soil WR characteristics, e.g. WR increased significantly as the contents of soil organic matter and total N increased, but did not change as the total P content increased. Soil texture was a key factor affecting soil WR; soil WR increased significantly as clay content increased, and decreased significantly as sand content increased. Low pH was shown to be more suitable for the occurrence of soil WR. Four cations (Ca2+, Mg2+ , K+, Na+) and two anions (Cl- and SO42- )enhanced soil WR, while CO3- decreased it. HCO3- did not show any observable effect. Finally, we established a best-fit general linear model (GLM) between soil-air-water contact angle (CA) and influencing factors (CA=5.606 sand+6.496 (clay and silt) 2.353 pH+470.089 CO3 2-+11.346 Na+–407.707 Cl-–14.245 SO42-+0.734 total N–519.521). It was concluded that all soils contain subcritical WR (0°<CA<90°). The development and succession of Nitraria tangutorun nebkhas may improve the formation of soil subcritical WR. There exist significant relationships between soils subcritical WR and soil physical or chemical properties.
Distribution pattern of Caragana species under the influence of climate gradient in the Inner Mongolia region, China
LiNa XIE, ChengCang MA, HongYu GUO, QingFang LI, YuBao GAO
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 311-323.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0227-2
Abstract ( 2092 )     PDF (338KB) ( 2161 )  
There is a strong climate gradient in the Inner Mongolia region, China, with solar radiation and air temperature increasing but precipitation decreasing gradually from the northeast to the southwest. Sixteen Caragana species exist in the Inner Mongolia region. These Caragana species exhibit a distribution pattern across moisture zones and form a geographical replacement series. In order to examine the mechanisms responsible for Caragana species distribution pattern, we selected 12 Caragana species that exhibit a distinct distribution pattern across multiple moisture zones in the Inner Mongolia region, and determined the relationships between the leaf ecological and physiological traits of these Caragana species and the aridity index and solar radiation. Along with the climatic drought gradient and the solar radiation intensification from the northeast to the southwest, leaf ecological characteristics of Caragana species changed drastically, i.e. the leaf shape gradually turned from flat into tegular or tubbish; the leaf hair became denser, longer and lighter in color; the leaf area, leaf biomass and specific leaf area (SLA) decreased significantly; the leaf thickness and the ratio of leaf thickness to leaf area increased significantly; and the leaf chlorophyll content decreased significantly. As the climatic drought stress increased, osmotic potentials of the main osmotic adjustment substances and the cytoplasmic ion concentration of Caragana species increased significantly. Meanwhile, the total and free water contents and water potential of leaves decreased significantly; the ratio of bound to free water increased significantly; the stomatal conductance and transpiration rate reduced significantly; and the water use efficiency (WUE) increased significantly. In addition, with the intensification of climatic drought stress, peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities in leaves increased significantly. As a result, the malondialdehyde (MDA) content increased while the oxygen free radical content decreased. Our results showed that most of the leaf ecological and physiological traits of the 12 Caragana species varied in accordance with the climatic drought gradient in the Inner Mongolia region, which reflected the adaptation of the Caragana species to the local climate conditions. With relatively more active metabolism and faster growth, the Caragana species in the northeast had strong competitive abilities; on the other hand, with stronger resistance to climatic drought stress, the Caragana species in the southwest could survive in harsh environments. Based on our results, we concluded that both the environmental gradients and the adaptive responses of Caragana species to their environments played important roles in the formation of the Caragana species distribution pattern across the Inner Mongolia region.
Grazing intensity effects on the vegetation in desert rangelands of Southern Tunisia
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 324-333.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0202-y
Abstract ( 2053 )     PDF (495KB) ( 2711 )  
Although the effects of non-grazing and heavy grazing on vegetation structure have been extensively studied in a wide range of ecosystems, the effects of moderate grazing on desert land are still largely unknown. Many management opportunities exist for increasing forage intake. In order to determine an optimal management method of desert rangelands with high heritage value, we examined the respective effects of heavy grazing, moderate grazing and non-grazing on total vegetation cover, species richness, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index and rangeland productivity. Sampling was done from 2010 to 2012 (from the second year after treatments were imposed) using permanent transects under different grazing intensities. While total vegetation cover, species richness, Shannon-Wiener diversity index, species composition and primary production were significantly greater on the ungrazed site and significantly weaker on the heavily grazed site, in contrast, moderate grazing had no significant ffect on total vegetation cover, species richness, Shannon diversity index, species composition and primary production. These studies suggest that desert rangelands plant communities in general lack response to moderate grazing disturbance, and if managed properly they can provide a valuable source of feed for livestock.
Scale dependence of plant species richness and vegetation-environment relationship along a gradient of dune stabilization in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China
XiaoAn ZUO, ShaoKun WANG, XueYong ZHAO, Jie LIAN
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 334-342.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0221-8
Abstract ( 2238 )     PDF (435KB) ( 2493 )  
Ecological patterns and processes in dune ecosystems have been a research focus in recent years, however the information on how dune stabilization influences the spatial scale dependence of plant diversity is still lacking. In this study, we measured the plant species richness, soil properties and altitude across four spatial scales (1, 10, 100 and 1,000 m2) at three different dune stabilization stages (mobile dune, semi-fixed dune and fixed dune) in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China. We also examined the relationships between plant species richness, community composition and environmental factors along the gradient of dune stabilization. Our results showed that plant species richness increased with the increase of spatial scales in each dune stabilization stage, as well as with the increase of dune stabilization degrees. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that plant distributions in the processes of dune stabilization were determined by the combined environmental gradient in relation to soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), carbon/nitrogen (C/N), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soil water content (SWC), fine sand (FS), very fine sand (VFS), silt and clay (SC), and altitude. Plant species richness was significantly and positively correlated to SOC and TN in mobile dune, and significantly and positively correlated to SOC, TN, C/N, VFS and SC in semi-fixed dune. However, no significant correlation between plant species richness and environmental factors was observed in fixed dune. In addition, plant species richness in different dune stabilization stages was also determined by the combined gradient of soil properties and altitude. These results suggest that plant species richness has obvious scale dependence along the gradient of dune stabilization. Soil resources depending on dune habitats and environmental gradients caused by dune stabilization are important factors to de-termine the scale dependence of species diversity in sand dune ecosystems.
Effects of vegetation cover on recruitment of Ulmus pumila L. in Horqin Sandy Land, northeastern China
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 343-351.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0204-9
Abstract ( 2121 )     PDF (527KB) ( 2095 )  
Understanding the effects of vegetation cover on seedling survival is helpful for promoting vegetation restoration in environmentally fragile zones. This study was conducted in the desertified, moving sand dunes of Horqin Sandy Land, Inner Mongolia, northeastern China. We hyphothesized that (1) seed density (i.e., number/m2) increases as vegetation cover increases, and (2) there will be more surviving seedlings in locations with higher vegetation covers. Total vegetation cover and initial densities of seeds, germinated seeds and surviving seedlings of Ulmus pumilia were evaluated under various vegetation covers in trying to clarify the effects of vegetation cover on the early stages of the plant life history. In agreement with the first hypothesis, initial seed densities were greater (P<0.05) under higher vegetation covers. The relationship between vegetation cover and initial seed density was represented by a quadratic regression, where a threshold occurred with a vegetation cover of 36% (P<0.05). The higher total vegetation covers, however, did not result in increased densities of germinated seeds (P>0.05), which on average represented 16.7% of initial seed densities. Even more, three months after the study initiation, total vegetation covers were similar (P>0.05) at all positions in the dunes, and they determined a similar number (P>0.05) of surviving seedlings at those positions (i.e. the second hypothesis had to be rejected). The mean number of seedlings that survived at all positions was only 4.5% of germinated seeds. The number of surviving elm seedlings (0 to 1.7 seedlings/m2) under various vegetations covers (12.2% to 20.8%) at all dune positions by late summer would most likely not contribute to vegetation restoration in the study area.
Influence of vegetation parameters on runoff and sediment characteristics in patterned Artemisia capillaris plots
GuanHua ZHANG, GuoBin LIU, PingCang ZHANG, Liang YI
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 352-360.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0224-5
Abstract ( 2203 )     PDF (425KB) ( 2007 )  
Vegetation patterns are important in the regulation of earth surface hydrological processes in arid and semi-arid areas. Laboratory-simulated rainfall experiments were used at the State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Yangling, northwestern China, to quantify the effects of Artemisia capillaris patterns on runoff and soil loss. The quantitative relationships between runoff/sediment yield and vegetation parameters were also thoroughly analyzed using the path analysis method for identifying the reduction mechanism of vegetation on soil erosion. A simulated rainfall intensity of 90 mm/h was applied on a control plot without vegetation (C0) and on the other three different vegetation distribution patterns: a checkerboard pattern (CP), a banded pattern perpendicular to the slope direction (BP), and a single long strip parallel to the slope direction (LP). Each patterned plot received two sets of experiments, i.e. intact plants and roots only, respectively. All treatments had three replicates. The results showed that all the three other different patterns (CP, BP and LP) of A. capillaris could effectively reduce the runoff and sediment yield. Compared with C0, the other three intact plant plots had a 12%–25% less runoff and 58%–92% less sediment. Roots contributed more to sediment reduction (46%–70%), whereas shoots contributed more to runoff reduction (57%–81%). BP and CP exhibited preferable controlling effects on soil erosion compared with LP. Path analysis indicated that root length density and plant number were key parameters influencing runoff rate, while root surface area density and root weight density were central indicators affecting sediment rate. The results indicated that an appropriate increase of sowing density has practical significance in conserving soil and water.
Localized salt accumulation: the main reason for cotton root length decrease during advanced growth stages under drip irrigation with mulch film in a saline soil
WenXuan MAI, ChangYan TIAN, Li LI
Journal of Arid Land. 2014, 6 (3): 361-370.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0001-0
Abstract ( 1859 )     PDF (389KB) ( 2040 )  
High salinity in soil can prevent root growth of most plants. To investigate soil salinity dynamics under drip irrigation with mulch film (DI) and its effects on cotton root length, we conducted field experiments in saline soil based on a monolith method using flooding irrigation with mulch film (FI) as a control at the Korla Experimental Station of the Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China in 2009 and 2010. The results showed that the total root length decreased 120 days after sowing (DAS) under DI, and was mainly centered in the 0–30 cm soil layer and at distances of 30–70 cm from the drip-lines. There was almost complete overlap in the area of root length decline and salt accumulation. In the soil depth of 0–30 cm and at distances of 30–70 cm from the drip-lines at 110 to 160 DAS in 2009 and 171 DAS in 2010, the electrical conductivity (EC) in all soil samples was at least 3 mS/cm and in some cases exceeded 5 mS/cm under DI treatment. However, EC barely exceeded 3 mS/cm and no reduc-tion in root length was observed under FI treatment. Correlation analysis of soil EC and root length density indicated that the root length declined when the soil EC exceeded 2.8 mS/cm. The main reason for the decrease of root length in cotton under DI was localized accumulation of salinity.