Morphological characteristics and dynamic changes of seif dunes in the eastern margin of the Kumtagh Desert, China

Abstract

The seif dune field over the gravel desert surface in the eastern margin of the Kumtagh Desert is a valuable experimental site for the observation of dune formation and dynamics. We used high-resolution remote sensing and station observation approaches, combined with wind and grain size data, to study the characteristics of the aeolian environment and the morphologies of and dynamic changes in seif dunes. We observed the ratio of the resultant drift potential (RDP) to the drift potential (DP), which was 0.37, associated with an obtuse bimodal wind regime. The drift potentials in the west-northwest (WNW) and east-northeast (ENE) directions were dominant, and the angle between the two primary DP directions was 135.00°. The dune orientations ranged from 168.75°–213.75°, which were parallel to the resultant drift direction (186.15°). The dune lengths ranged from 51.68 to 1932.11 m with a mean value of 344.91 m. The spacings of the dunes ranged from 32.34 to 319.77 m with a mean value of 93.39 m. The mean grain size of the sediments became finer, and the sorting became better from upwind tail to downwind tip, which indicated that the sediment of the seif dunes in the study region may be transported from northward to southward. The rate of increase in the length, the mean longitudinal migration rate of the dune tail, and the mean longitudinal extension rate of the dune tip (also called elongation rate) were 4.93, 4.63, and 9.55 m/a, respectively. The mean lateral migration vector of the seif dunes was approximately 0.11 m/a towards the west (–0.11 m/a), while the mean amplitude of lateral migration was 0.53 m/a, ignoring the direction of lateral migration. We found that the seif dune field formed first beside seasonal rivers, which can provide sediment, and then expanded downwind.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Non-profit Research Institution of Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAFYBB2019MA009, CAFYBB2017ZE005), the New Project of Surplus Project Fund for Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry (IDS2019JY-4), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471151, 41701010, 41877530), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018459). We thank Prof. YANG Wenbin and Prof. YAN Changzhen for their help on data acquisition and processing. We are grateful for the insightful inputs of the anonymous reviewers and editors during the review phase of this article.

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Correspondence to Yingjun Pang.

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Pang, Y., Wu, B., Li, Y. et al. Morphological characteristics and dynamic changes of seif dunes in the eastern margin of the Kumtagh Desert, China. J. Arid Land 12, 887–902 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-020-0099-1

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Keywords

  • seif dune
  • Kumtagh Desert
  • elongation
  • migration
  • drift potential