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Reducing sampling uncertainty in aeolian research to improve change detection

April 26, 2019

Measurements of aeolian sediment transport support our understanding of mineral dust impacts on Earth and human systems and assessments of aeolian process sensitivities to global environmental change. However, sample design principles are often overlooked in aeolian research. Here, we use high‐density field measurements of sediment mass flux across land use and land cover types to examine sample size and power effects on detecting change in aeolian transport. Temporal variances were 1.6 to 10.1 times the magnitude of spatial variances in aeolian transport for six study sites. Differences in transport were detectable for >67% of comparisons among sites using ~27 samples. Failure to detect change with smaller sample sizes suggests that aeolian transport measurements and monitoring are much more uncertain than recognized. We show how small and selective sampling, common in aeolian research, gives the false impression that differences in aeolian transport can be detected, potentially undermining inferences about process and impacting reproducibility of aeolian research.

Publication Year 2019
Title Reducing sampling uncertainty in aeolian research to improve change detection
DOI 10.1029/2019JF005042
Authors Nicholas P. Webb, Adrian Chappell, Brandon L. Edwards, Sarah E. McCord, Justin W. Van Zee, Bradley F. Cooper, Ericha M. Courtright, Michael C. Duniway, Brenton Sharratt, Negussie H Tedela, David Toledo
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface
Index ID 70203401
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center