Drought and land use/land cover impact on dust sources in Southern Great Plains and Chihuahuan Desert of the U.S. Inferring anthropogenic effect

Tarek Kandakji, Thomas E. Gill, Jeffrey A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Exploring the effects of drought and land use/land cover (LULC) on aeolian dust emission is important to enhance dust models to account for anthropogenic land surface change. Hitherto, there has been no systematic effort to quantitatively estimate associations between LULC and drought with the number of dust point sources as a surrogate for emission on both local and global levels. Previously, we created a dataset of dust emission point sources in the southwestern United States (U.S.) during the years 2001–2016, including a period of extreme drought. However, that work did not investigate the effects of drought on the detected dust point sources. Here, we used that dataset to test the hypothesis that there is a statistically significant association between drought level and LULC that may contribute to the number of dust point sources in the Southern Great Plains and Chihuahuan Desert regions of the U.S. The spatio-temporal analysis showed that the geographic mean center for all the dust points, as well as the majority of the annual geographic mean centers between 2001 and 2016, is located in the Southern High Plains. Areas suffering from severe to exceptional drought tend to attract the annual geographic mean center of dust points. The chi-square analysis results showed a significant association between land cover type (as defined in the National Land Cover Database) and drought level with the number of dust point sources (χ2 (6) = 45.54, р < 0.001), thus supporting the proposed hypothesis. Results from this study indicate that human activities in dust-prone regions have clear potential to worsen the negative impacts of drought by changing LULC and increasing erodibility in multiple ways. This study paves the way for future efforts that can utilize more data and conduct more robust statistical analysis of the drought-LULC-dust linkage on both regional and global scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142461
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume755
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021

Keywords

  • Blowing dust
  • Chihuahuan Desert
  • Drought level
  • Land management
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Southern Great Plains

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