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Vegetation and soil wind erosion dynamics of sandstorm control programs in the agro-pastoral transitional zone of northern China
- Wu, Zhitao, Wang, Mingyue, Zhang, Hong, Du, Ziqiang
- Frontiers of earth science 2019 v.13 no.2 pp. 430-443
- autumn, desertification, dust storms, environmental impact, erosion control, normalized difference vegetation index, soil, soil erosion models, spatial data, vegetation cover, wind, wind erosion, China
- To combat soil erosion and desertification, large-scale sandstorm control programs have been put in place since 2000 in the agro-pastoral transitional zone of northern China. Vegetation dynamics as well as soil wind erosion control effects are very important for assessing the ecological success of sandstorm control programs in China. However, no comprehensive evaluation of vegetation dynamics and soil wind erosion control effects in this region has been achieved. In this study, we illustrate the vegetation and soil wind erosion dynamics of sandstorm control programs in the northern Shanxi Province using remote sensing data and soil wind erosion models. There was a significant increase in vegetation cover for 63.59% of the study area from 2001 to 2014 and a significant decrease for 2.00% of the study area. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) showed that the largest increase occurred in autumn. Soil wind erosion mass decreased from 20.90 million tons in 2001 to 7.65 million tons in 2014. Compared with 2001, the soil wind erosion moduli were reduced by 43.05%, 36.16%, and 62.66% in 2005, 2010, and 2014, respectively. Spatially, soil wind erosion in most of the study area was alleviated between 2001 and 2014. The relationship between NDVI and soil wind erosion mass showed that the increased vegetation coverage reduced the soil wind erosion mass. In addition, wind was the main driving force behind the soil wind erosion dynamics. The results indicate that the vegetation coverage has increased and soil wind erosion mass has been reduced following the implementation of the sandstorm control programs. However, the ecological effects of the sandstorm control programs may vary over different periods. While the programs appear to be beneficial in the short term, there may be unintended consequences in the long term. Research on the sustainability of the ecological benefits of sandstorm control programs needs to be conducted in the future.