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Impact assessment of climate change and human activities on wind erosion on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China
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  • Yanmin Teng,
  • Jinyan Zhan,
  • Wei Liu,
  • Yongxiu Sun,
  • Boappeah Frank ,
  • Li Liang,
  • Zhihui Li
Yanmin Teng
Beijing Normal University
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Jinyan Zhan
Beijing Normal University
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Wei Liu
Beijing Normal University
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Yongxiu Sun
Beijing Normal University
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Boappeah Frank
Beijing Normal University
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Li Liang
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Zhihui Li
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research CAS
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Abstract

Wind erosion has become one of the major causes of land degradation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP). Assessing wind erosion dynamics is critical to forecast wind erosion and formulate desertification control strategies. In this study, the spatial and temporal variations in wind erosion on the QTP from 1980 to 2015 were evaluated by the revised wind erosion equation (RWEQ). Furthermore, the relative contributions of climate change and human activities to wind erosion were analysed to identify the drivers. The results showed that wind erosion intensity on the QTP increased continuously from southeast to northwest. Areas with moderate or high soil erosion intensity (>25 t∙hm2∙a-1), accounting for 53.48% of the region, were mainly distributed on the western and northern parts of the plateau. The mean annual soil wind erosion modulus (SWEM) of the total region during 1980-2015 was 32.08 t∙hm2∙a-1, with an obvious decline at a rate of approximately 0.14 t∙hm2∙a-1 in this period. However, 9.99% of the study area showed a relatively significant increase, and these areas were mostly located in the northwestern part of the region. Climate change, especially variation in wind speed, was the dominant factor that affected wind erosion over the whole plateau, whereas the impacts of human activities such as grazing and ecological restoration policies and programmes were comparatively small and usually more localized.