The rapid desertification of grasslands in Inner Mongolia of China poses a significant ecological threaten to northern China. The combined effects of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g., overgrazing) and biophysical processes (e.g., soil erosion) have led to vegetation degradation and the consequent acceleration of regional desertification. Thus, mitigating the accelerated wind erosion, a cause and effect of grassland desertification, is critical for the sustainable management of grasslands. Here, a combination of mobile wind tunnel experiments and wind erosion model was used to explore the effects of different levels of vegetation coverage, soil moisture and wind speed on wind erosion at different positions of a slope inside an enclosed desert steppe in the Xilamuren grassland of Inner Mongolia. The results indicated a significant spatial difference in wind erosion intensities depending on the vegetation coverage, with a strong decreasing trend from the top to the base of the slope. Increasing vegetation coverage resulted in a rapid decrease in wind erosion as explained by a power function correlation. Vegetation coverage was found to be a dominant control on wind erosion by increasing the surface roughness and by lowering the threshold wind velocity for erosion. The critical vegetation coverage required for effectively controlling wind erosion was found to be higher than 60%. Further, the wind erosion rates were negatively correlated with surface soil moisture and the mass flux in aeolian sand transport increased with increasing wind speed. We developed a mathematical model of wind erosion based on the results of an orthogonal array design. The results from the model simulation indicated that the standardized regression coefficients of the main effects of the three factors (vegetation coverage, soil moisture and wind speed) on the mass flux in aeolian sand transport were in the following order: wind speed>vegetation coverage>soil moisture. These three factors had different levels of interactive effects on the mass flux in aeolian sand transport. Our results will improve the understanding of the interactive effects of wind speed, vegetation coverage and soil moisture in controlling wind erosion in desert steppes, and will be helpful for the design of desertification control programs in future.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adhikari K, Hartemink A E. 2016. Linking soils to ecosystem services—a global review. Geoderma, 262: 101–111.
Ashrafi K, Kalhor M, Shafie-Pour M, et al. 2015. Numerical simulation of aerodynamic suspension of particles during wind erosion. Environmental Earth Sciences, 74(2): 1569–1578.
Bauer B O, Houser C A, Nickling W G. 2004. Analysis of velocity profile measurements from wind-tunnel experiments with saltation. Geomorphology, 59(1–4): 81–98.
Bergametti G, Rajot J L, Pierre C, et al. 2016. How long does precipitation inhibit wind erosion in the Sahel? Geophysical Research Letters, 43(12): 6643–6649.
Borrelli P, Panagos P, Ballabio C, et al. 2016. Towards a pan-European assessment of land susceptibility to wind erosion. Land Degradation & Development, 27(4): 1093–1105.
Borrelli P, Lugato E, Montanarella L, et al. 2017. A new assessment of soil loss due to wind erosion in European agricultural soils using a quantitative spatially distributed modelling approach. Land Degradation & Development, 28(1): 335–344.
Bu C F, Zhao Y, Hill R L, et al. 2015. Wind erosion prevention characteristics and key influencing factors of bryophytic soil crusts. Plant and Soil, 397(1–2): 163–174.
Chen Z, Ma S S, Zhao Y L, et al. 2010. Characteristics of drifting sand flux over conservation tillage field. Transactions of the CSAE, 26(1): 118–122. (in Chinese)
Ding Y L, Meng Z J, Gao Y, et al. 2016. Heterogeneity of soil particles in wind erosion surface of desert steppe. Bulletin of Soil and Water Conservation, 36(2): 59–64. (in Chinese)
Duan H C, Wang T, Xue X, et al. 2014. Dynamics of aeolian desertification and its driving forces in the Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China. Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, 186: 6083–6096.
Fernandez-Bernal A, de la Rosa M A. 2009. Arid Environments and Wind Erosion. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1–13.
Gao Y. 2013. Desertification Monitoring. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 76. (in Chinese)
Guo Z L, Huang N, Dong Z B, et al. 2014. Wind erosion induced soil degradation in northern China: status, measures and perspective. Sustainability, 6(12): 8951–8966.
Han Q J, Qu J J, Liao K T, et al. 2012. A wind tunnel experiment of Aeolian sand transport over wetted coastal sand surface. Journal of Desert Research, 32(6): 1512–1521. (in Chinese)
He J J, Tang Z J, Cai Q G. 2010. Study on changing laws of soil wind erosion by wind tunnel experiment in agro-pastoral area of Inner Mongolia. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 24(4): 35–39. (in Chinese)
He J J, Cai Q G, Cao W Q. 2013. Wind tunnel study of multiple factors affecting wind erosion from cropland in agro-pastoral area of Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Mountain Science, 10(1): 68–74.
Hesse P P, Simpson R L. 2006. Variable vegetation cover and episodic sand movement on longitudinal desert sand dunes. Geomorphology, 81(3–4): 276–291.
John R, Chen J, Kim Y, et al. 2016. Differentiating anthropogenic modification and precipitation driven change on vegetation productivity on the Mongolian Plateau. Landscape Ecology, 31: 547–566.
Kang Y M, Chang C P, Wang R D, et al. 2012. Soil wind erosion characteristics of hilly farmland with gentle slope at crisscross area of agriculture and pasture in the North. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 26(5): 55–58. (in Chinese)
Leys J F, Mctainsh G H. 1996. Sediment fluxes and particle grain-size characteristics of wind-eroded sediments in southeastern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 21(7): 661–671.
López A, Valera D L, Molina-Aiz F D, et al. 2017. Sonic anemometry and sediment traps to evaluate the effectiveness of windbreaks in preventing wind erosion. Scientia Agricola, 2017, 74(6): 425–435.
Lozano F J, Soriano M, Martínez S, et al. 2013. The influence of blowing soil trapped by shrubs on fertility in Tabernas District (SE Spain). Land Degradation & Development, 24(6): 575–581.
Luo W Y, Dong Z B. 2005. The progress and prospects of research on wind erosion induced soil nutrient and carbon cycling. Progress in Geography, 24(4): 75–83. (in Chinese)
Ma Q L, Fehmi J S, Zhang D K, et al. 2017. Changes in wind erosion over a 25-year restoration chronosequence on the south edge of the Tengger Desert, China: Implications for preventing desertification. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189(9): 463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-017-6183-0.
Mendez M J, Buschiazzo D E. 2015. Soil coverage evolution and wind erosion risk on summer crops under contrasting tillage systems. Aeolian Research, 16: 117–124.
Nourzadeh M, Bahrami H A, Goossens D, et al. 2013. Determining soil erosion and threshold friction velocity at different soil moisture conditions using a portable wind tunnel. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, 57(1): 97–109.
Pye K, Tsoar H. 1990. Aeolian Sand and Sand Deposits. London: Unwin Hyman, 1–396.
Raupach M R, Woods N, Dorr G, et al. 2001. The entrapment of particles by windbreaks. Atmospheric Environment, 35(20): 3373–3383.
Řeháček D, Khel T, Kučera J, et al. 2017. Effect of windbreaks on wind speed reduction and soil protection against wind erosion. Soil and Water Research, 12(2): 128–135.
Santiago J L, Martin F, Cuerva A, et al. 2007. Experimental and numerical study of wind flow behind windbreaks. Atmospheric Environment, 41: 6406–6420.
Sun Y C, Ma S S, Chen Z, et al. 2010. Wind tunnel simulation of impact of gravel coverage on soil erosion in arid farmland. Transactions of the CSAE, 26(11): 151–155. (in Chinese)
Wang C S. 2010. Research of sandstorm in Chinese historical period: an overview. Journal of Desert Research, 30(5): 1182–1185. (in Chinese)
Wang T, Wu W, Xue X, et al. 2004. Spatial-temporal changes of sandy desertified land during last 5 decades in Northern China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 59(2): 203–212. (in Chinese)
Wang X F, Sun W C, Li X Z, et al. 2009. Wind erosion-resistance of fields planted with winter rapeseed in the wind erosion region of Northern China. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 29(12): 6572–6577. (in Chinese)
Webb N P, McGowan H A, Phinn S R, et al. 2006. AUSLEM (Australian Land Erodibility Model): a tool for identifying wind erosion hazard in Australia. Geomorphology, 78(3–4): 179–200.
Wiggs G F S, Baird A J, Atherton R J. 2004. The dynamic effects of moisture on the entrainment and transport of sand by wind. Geomorphology, 59(1–4): 13–30.
Yan Y C, Xu X L, Xin X P, et al. 2011. Effect of vegetation coverage on Aeolian dust accumulation in a semiarid steppe of northern China. CATENA, 87(3): 351–356.
Yang F B, Lu C H. 2016. Assessing changes in wind erosion climatic erosivity in China's dryland region. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 26(9): 1263–1276.
Yi X Y, Zhao H L, Li Y L, et al. 2006. Wind erosion characteristics of Aeolian soils in Horqin Sandy Land. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 20(2): 10–13, 53. (in Chinese)
Yue Y J, Shi P J, Zou X Y, et al. 2015. The measurement of wind erosion through field survey and remote sensing: A case study of the Mu Us Desert, China. Natural Hazards, 76(3): 1497–1514.
Zhang J Q, Zhang C L, Chang C P, et al. 2017. Comparison of wind erosion based on measurements and SWEEP simulation: a case study in Kangbao County, Hebei Province, China. Soil and Tillage Research, 165: 169–180.
Zhang Z C, Dong Z B, Qian G Q. 2017. Field observations of the vertical distribution of sand transport characteristics over fine, medium and coarse sand surfaces. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 42(6): 889–902.
Zhao P Y, Tuo D B, Li H C, et al. 2012. Effects of soil moisture and physical sand content on wind erosion modulus in wind tunnel testing. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, 28(24): 188–195. (in Chinese)
Zhao Y Y, Wu J G, He C Y, et al. 2017. Linking wind erosion to ecosystem services in drylands: a landscape ecological approach. Landscape Ecology, 32(12): 2399–2417.
Zobeck T M, van Pelt R S. 2006. Wind-induced dust generation and transport mechanics on a bare agricultural field. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 132(1): 26–38.
This study was supported by the National Natural Science of Foundation of China (51769019) and the Excellent Youth Foundation of Inner Mongolia Agricultural University (2014XYQ-8).
About this article
Cite this article
Meng, Z., Dang, X., Gao, Y. et al. Interactive effects of wind speed, vegetation coverage and soil moisture in controlling wind erosion in a temperate desert steppe, Inner Mongolia of China. J. Arid Land 10, 534–547 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-018-0059-1
- desert steppe
- wind erosion
- aeolian process
- sand transport
- Xilamuren grassland