Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Spatial and temporal patterns of dust emissions (2004-2012) in semi-arid landscapes, southeastern Utah, USA

January 1, 2013

Aeolian dust can influence nutrient availability, soil fertility, plant interactions, and water-holding capacity in both source and downwind environments. A network of 85 passive collectors for aeolian sediment spanning numerous plant communities, soil types, and land-use histories covering approximately 4000 square kilometers across southeastern Utah was used to sample horizontal emissions of aeolian sediment. The sample archive dates to 2004 and is currently the largest known record of field-scale dust emissions for the southwestern United States. Sediment flux peaked during the spring months in all plant communities (mean: 38.1 g m−2 d−1), related to higher, sustained wind speeds that begin in the early spring. Dust flux was lowest during the winter period (mean: 5 g m−2 d−1) when surface wind speeds are typically low. Sites dominated by blackbrush and sagebrush shrubs had higher sediment flux (mean: 19.4 g m−2 d−1) compared to grasslands (mean: 11.2 g m−2 d−1), saltbush shrublands (mean: 10.3 g m−2 d−1), and woodlands (mean: 8.1 g m−2 d−1). Contrary to other studies on dust emissions, antecedent precipitation during one, two, and three seasons prior to sample collection did not significantly influence emission rates. Physical site-scale factors controlling dust emissions were complex and varied from one vegetation type to another.

Publication Year 2013
Title Spatial and temporal patterns of dust emissions (2004-2012) in semi-arid landscapes, southeastern Utah, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2013.10.002
Authors Cody B. Flagg, Jason C. Neff, Richard L. Reynolds, Jayne Belnap
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Aeolian Research
Index ID 70048512
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center