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Sand Flux in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico, USA, and the Influence of Mesquite-Dominated Landscapes

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Abstract:This study was designed to test two hypotheses: (1) that land dominated by mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) is the most important area for active sand movement at the Jornada Experimental Range, located in the northern part of the Chihuahuan desert, and (2) that the most active sand movement in the mesquite-dominated ecosystems takes place on elongated bare soil patches ( "streets") having sandy-textured soil texture between the mesquite plants oriented in the direction of the strongest winds. Both hypotheses were confirmed by the evidence discussed in this paper. To integrate the wind observations, vegetation mapping, and sand flux monitoring described in this paper, we modeled the spatial and temporal mean airborne sand mass flux. The model had the form of an expectation integral that used information on the following: the increase in sand flux with street length, a function for the horizontal mass flux based on friction velocity and threshold friction velocity, wind speed probability versus wind direction, probability of street length versus direction, and probability of friction velocity being exceeded. The model's calculations of mean sand flux movement showed fairly good proportionality with the observed mean sand fluxes at three sites dominated by mesquite vegetation.
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Citation:Gillette, D., and A. M. Pitchford. Sand Flux in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico, USA, and the Influence of Mesquite-Dominated Landscapes. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 109:doi: 10.1029/2003JF0, (2004).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Landscape Ecology Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 02/04/2005
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Bullet Item Sand Flux in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico, USA, and the Influence of Mesquite-Dominated Landscapes
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Development of Landscape Indicators for Use in Regional Ecological Risk Assessments
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