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31 July 2023, Volume 15 Issue 7 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Correlation analysis between the Aral Sea shrinkage and the Amu Darya River
WANG Min, CHEN Xi, CAO Liangzhong, KURBAN Alishir, SHI Haiyang, WU Nannan, EZIZ Anwar, YUAN Xiuliang, Philippe DE MAEYER
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 757-778.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0062-z
Abstract ( 36 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1917KB) ( 139 )  

The shrinkage of the Aral Sea, which is closely related to the Amu Darya River, strongly affects the sustainability of the local natural ecosystem, agricultural production, and human well-being. In this study, we used the Bayesian Estimator of Abrupt change, Seasonal change, and Trend (BEAST) model to detect the historical change points in the variation of the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya River and analyse the causes of the Aral Sea shrinkage during the 1950-2016 period. Further, we applied multifractal detrend cross-correlation analysis (MF-DCCA) and quantitative analysis to investigate the responses of the Aral Sea to the runoff in the Amu Darya River, which is the main source of recharge to the Aral Sea. Our results showed that two significant trend change points in the water volume change of the Aral Sea occurred, in 1961 and 1974. Before 1961, the water volume in the Aral Sea was stable, after which it began to shrink, with a shrinkage rate fluctuating around 15.21 km3/a. After 1974, the water volume of the Aral Sea decreased substantially at a rate of up to 48.97 km3/a, which was the highest value recorded in this study. In addition, although the response of the Aral Sea's water volume to its recharge runoff demonstrated a complex non-linear relationship, the replenishment of the Aral Sea by the runoff in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River was identified as the dominant factor affecting the Aral Sea shrinkage. Based on the scenario analyses, we concluded that it is possible to slow down the retreat of the Aral Sea and restore its ecosystem by increasing the efficiency of agricultural water use, decreasing agricultural water use in the middle and lower reaches, reducing ineffective evaporation from reservoirs and wetlands, and increasing the water coming from the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River to the 1961-1973 level. These measures would maintain and stabilise the water area and water volume of the Aral Sea in a state of ecological restoration. Therefore, this study focuses on how human consumption of recharge runoff affects the Aral Sea and provides scientific perspective on its ecological conservation and sustainable development.

Soil quality assessment for desertification based on multi-indicators with the best-worst method in a semi-arid ecosystem
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 779-796.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0020-9
Abstract ( 35 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (23771KB) ( 44 )  

Since there are some signs of land degradation and desertification showing how soil sustainability is threatened, it is crucial to create a soil quality index (SQI) model in the semi-arid Çorum Basin, situated between the Black Sea and Anatolia Region, Central Turkey. The primary aims of the study are: (1) to determine SQI values of the micro-basin in terms of land degradation and desertification. Moreover, the best-worst method (BWM) was used to determine the weighting score for each parameter; (2) to produce the soils' spatial distribution by utilizing different geostatistical models and GIS (geographic information system) techniques; and (3) to validate the obtained SQI values with biomass reflectance values. Therefore, the relationship of RE-OSAVI (red-edge optimized soil-adjusted vegetation index) and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) generated from Sentinel-2A satellite images at different time series with soil quality was examined. Results showed that SQI values were high in the areas that had almost a flat and slight slope. Moreover, the areas with high clay content and thick soil depth did not have salinity problems, and were generally distributed in the middle parts of the basin. However, the areas with a high slope, poor vegetation, high sand content, and low water holding capacity had low SQI values. Furthermore, a statistically high positive correlation of RE-OSAVI and NDVI indices with soil quality was found, and NDVI had the highest correlative value for June (R2=0.802) compared with RE-OSAVI.

Optimization of growth medium for microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) treatment of desert sand
Monika DAGLIYA, Neelima SATYAM, Ankit GARG
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 797-811.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0018-3
Abstract ( 21 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (5557KB) ( 22 )  

Wind-induced sand erosion is a natural process, and can have several negative impacts on human health, environment, and economy. To mitigate the wind-induced sand erosion, an environmental friendly technique that helps to bind soil particles is desirable. The microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) treatment has lately become renowned and a viable alternative to enhance the binding of sand particles (especially against wind erosion). The efficiency of Sporosarcina pasteurii bacteria in inducing calcite formation can be influenced by various factors, including the type of growth media used for bacterial culture. Most of the studies have mainly validated the efficiency of S. pasteurii bacteria usually under single growth media for the MICP treatment. However, the efficiency of S. pasteurii under different growth media on calcite formation is rarely explored. The current study explores the effect of S. pasteurii bacteria on calcite formation under the presence of three different growth media, namely, molasses (MS), tryptic soy broth (TB), and nutrient broth (NB). The three growth media have been applied in the laboratory with and without bacterial solution (control samples). Altered cementation media concentrations (0.5 and 1.0 M) with different pore volumes (PVs), namely, 0.25, 0.50, and 1.00 PV were used in sand-filled tubes for 7 and 14 treatment cycles (1 cycle=24 h). The pH and EC were measured for 12-h period in every 2 h interval, to monitor values at the time of treatment at room temperature. The calcite precipitation was confirmed using SEM (scanning electron microscope), PXRD (powder X-ray diffraction), and calcimeter tests. It was observed that MS generates lower calcite precipitation as compared with NB and TB. However, MS has the advantage of being more economical and abundant (waste product from sugar mills and refineries) as compared with other growth media (NB and TB). It was observed that the minimum and the maximum calcite precipitation using MS is 5% and 12%, respectively. The findings using MS in the present study was compared with the literature and found that precipitation of calcite using MS is effective to stabilize soil against wind erosion.

Remote sensing monitoring of the recent rapid increase in cultivation activities and its effects on desertification in the Mu Us Desert, China
ZHAO Hongyan, YAN Changzhen, LI Sen, WANG Yahui
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 812-826.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0061-0
Abstract ( 27 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (12402KB) ( 47 )  

The recent ecological improvement in the Mu Us Desert of China, largely attributed to large-scale afforestation projects, has created new opportunities for cultivation activities. However, the subsequent rapid increase in reclamation on desertification land and its impact on desertification have raised concerns. In this study, we first extracted data on cultivated land and desertification land in 1975, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 through the human-computer interaction visual interpretation method. By overlaying the cultivated land dynamics and desertification land, we subsequently explored the effect of cultivation activities on desertification in the Mu Us Desert during the six periods from 1975 to 2020 (1975-1990, 1990-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 2015-2020). The results showed that cultivated land in the Mu Us Desert showed a fluctuating and increasing trend from 3769.26 km2 in 1975 to 4865.73 km2 in 2020, with 2010 as the turning point for the recent rapid increase. The main contributors included the large and regular patches distributed in Yuyang District and Shenmu of Shaanxi Province, and relatively smaller patches concentrated in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The increased cultivated land from the reclamation on desertification land was dominated by moderate and severe desertification lands, and the decreased cultivated land that was transferred into desertification land as abandoned cultivated land was dominated by slight and moderate desertification lands. The effect of cultivation activities on desertification reversal (average area proportion of 10.61% for reversed desertification land) was greater than that of the development of desertification (average area proportion of 5.82% for developed desertification land). Nevertheless, compared to reversed desertification land, both the significant increase of developed desertification land during the periods of 2000-2005 and 2005-2010 and the insignificant decrease during the periods of 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 2015-2020 implied a potential remobilization risk. Therefore, this study provides a significant theoretical reference for the formulation of ecological restoration projects and regional macroeconomic development policies by considering the influence of cultivation activities, to ensure the overall environmental stability and sustainability in desertification land where reclamation and abandonment activities have taken place.

Morphological change and migration of revegetated dunes in the Ketu Sandy Land of the Qinghai Lake, China
WU Wangyang, ZHANG Dengshan, TIAN Lihui, SHEN Tingting, GAO Bin, YANG Dehui
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 827-841.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0021-8
Abstract ( 22 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (3753KB) ( 24 )  

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.

Stem sap flow of Haloxylon ammodendron at different ages and its response to physical factors in the Minqin oasis-desert transition zone, China
QIANG Yuquan, ZHANG Jinchun, XU Xianying, LIU Hujun, DUAN Xiaofeng
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 842-857.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0060-1
Abstract ( 26 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (2578KB) ( 34 )  

Haloxylon ammodendron, with its tolerance of drought, high temperature, and salt alkali conditions, is one of the main sand-fixing plant species in the oasis-desert transition zone in China. This study used the TDP30 (where TDP is the thermal dissipation probe) to measure hourly and daily variations in the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron at three age-classes (10, 15, and 20 years old, which were denoted as H10, H15, and H20, respectively) in the Minqin oasis-desert transition zone, China, from May through October 2020. By simultaneously monitoring temperature, relative humidity, photosynthetically active radiation, wind speed, net radiation, rainfall, and soil moisture in this region, we comprehensively investigated the stem sap flow velocity of different-aged H. ammodendron plants (H10, H15, and H20) and revealed its response to physical factors. The results showed that, on sunny days, the hourly variation curves of the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron plants at the three age-classes were mainly unimodal. In addition, the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron plants decreased significantly from September to October, which also delayed its peak time of hourly variation. On rainy days, the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron plants was multimodal and significantly lower than that on sunny days. Average daily water consumption of H. ammodendron plants at H10, H15, and H20 was 1.98, 2.82, and 1.91 kg/d, respectively. Temperature was the key factor affecting the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron at all age-classes. Net radiation was the critical factor influencing the stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron at H10 and H15; however, for that at H20, it was vapor pressure deficit. The stem sap flow velocity of H. ammodendron was highly significantly correlated with soil moisture at the soil depths of 50 and 100 cm, and the correlation was strengthened with increasing stand age. Altogether, our results revealed the dynamic changes of the stem sap flow velocity in different-aged H. ammodendron forest stands and its response mechanism to local physical factors, which provided a theoretical basis for the construction of new protective forests as well as the restoration and protection of existing ones in this region and other similar arid regions in the world.

Nutrient resorption and its influencing factors of typical desert plants in different habitats on the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China
ZHOU Chongpeng, GONG Lu, WU Xue, LUO Yan
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 858-870.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0104-6
Abstract ( 23 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (1318KB) ( 67 )  

The resorption of nutrients from senescent leaves allows plants to conserve and recycle nutrients. To explore the adaptation strategies of desert plants to nutrient-limited environments, we selected four typical desert plants (Populus euphratica Oliv., Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb., Glycyrrhiza inflata Batal., and Alhagi camelorum Fisch.) growing in the desert area of the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China. The contents of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and Ferrum (Fe) in the leaves of these four typical desert plants and their resorption characteristics were analyzed. The relationship of nutrient resorption efficiency with leaf functional traits and soil physical-chemical properties in two different habitats (saline-alkali land and sandy land) was discussed. The results showed that the four plants resorbed most of the elements. Ca was enriched in the leaves of P. euphratica, G. inflate, and A. camelorum; Mg was enriched in the leaves of G. inflata; and Fe was enriched in the leaves of the four plants. The results of the redundancy analysis showed that leaf thickness, soil electrical conductivity, and soil P content were the major factors affecting the nutrient resorption efficiency of the four plants. Leaf thickness was negatively correlated with N resorption efficiency (NRE), P resorption efficiency, and Fe resorption efficiency; soil electrical conductivity was positively correlated with the resorption efficiency of most elements; and soil P content was negatively correlated with the resorption efficiency of most elements in the plant leaves. The results showed that soil physical-chemical properties and soil nutrient contents had an important impact on the nutrient resorption of plant leaves. The same species growing in different habitats also differed in their resorption of different elements. The soil environment of plants and the biological characteristics of plant leaves affected the resorption of nutrient elements in different plants. The purpose of this study is to provide small-scale data support for the protection of ecosystems in nutrient-deficient areas by studying leaf functional strategies and nutrient conservation mechanisms of several typical desert plants.

Enhanced soil moisture improves vegetation growth in an arid grassland of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
ZHANG Hui, Giri R KATTEL, WANG Guojie, CHUAI Xiaowei, ZHANG Yuyang, MIAO Lijuan
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (7): 871-885.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0019-2
Abstract ( 21 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (4504KB) ( 41 )  

Climate change impacts on grasslands that cover a quarter of the global land area, have become unprecedented during the 21st century. One of the important ecological realms, arid grasslands of northern China, which occupy more than 70% of the region's land area. However, the impact of climate change on vegetation growth in these arid grasslands is not consistent and lacks corresponding quantitative research. In this study, NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) and climate factors including temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, soil moisture, and meteorological drought were analyzed to explore the determinants of changes in grassland greenness in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (northern China) during 1982-2016. The results showed that grasslands in Inner Mongolia witnessed an obvious trend of seasonal greening during the study period. Two prominent climatic factors, precipitation and soil moisture accounted for approximately 33% and 27% of grassland NDVI trends in the region based on multiple linear regression and boosted regression tree methods. This finding highlights the impact of water constraints to vegetation growth in Inner Mongolia's grasslands. The dominant role of precipitation in regulating grassland NDVI trends in Inner Mongolia significantly weakened from 1982 to 1996, and the role of soil moisture strengthened after 1996. Our findings emphasize the enhanced importance of soil moisture in driving vegetation growth in arid grasslands of Inner Mongolia, which should be thoroughly investigated in the future.