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Climatic Variability and Land Use Effects on U.S. Drylands

The Drylands Project undertakes studies to understand past changes, measure ongoing change, and forecast changes in physical and ecological landscapes and how these changes influence structure and composition of physical landscapes, ecosystem dynamics, and human communities of American drylands.

This project works to answer the following questions: How have drylands responded to periods of drought and wetness with respect to surface stability, especially wind erosion and dust emission, in various landscapes — undisturbed, currently disturbed, historically disturbed? How are drylands currently responding? What are the resulting impacts on natural and human systems? Where are the sources of atmospheric dust in the American West? What are the conditions that promote or suppress dust emission? How does dust affect snow melt? Can we identify the sources of dust that falls on snow cover or that affects communities? If so, what can be done to mitigate the problems? What can we expect in the future?

Why is this research important?

Radiative effects of dust on atmospheric dynamics are thought to be a factor in climate change. Radiative effects of dust have an effect on water supplies. Dust influences ocean fertilization because of iron solubility in seawater and subsequent enhanced phytoplankton productivity and drawdown of atmospheric CO2. Dust also has implications for human health.

Principal Investigator: Richard L. Reynolds

Project Team: John Whitney, Harland Goldstein, Marith Reheis, Gary Clow, Frank Urban, George Breit, Corey Lawrence, Rian Bogle, Suzette Morman, Ruth Wolf, Ray Kokaly, Richard Pelltier, John Vogel, Eric Fisher, Jeff Honke, Gary Skipp, D. VanSistine, Cody Flagg, Janice Brahney, Richard Hereford, Ivo Lucchitta, Richard Madole, James Yount, Pat Glancey, Jiang Xiao, Jason Neff

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