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Sand Flux Simulations at a Small Scale over a Heterogeneous Mesquite Area of the Northern Chihuahuan Desert

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  • 1 Atmospheric Modeling Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
  • | 2 Atmospheric Sciences Modeling Division, Air Resources Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
  • | 3 Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, UMR CNRS 7583, Universités Paris 7-Paris 12, Créteil, France
  • | 4 Atmospheric Sciences Modeling Division, Air Resources Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
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Abstract

Within areas of the Chihuahuan Desert dominated by honey mesquite bushes (Prosopis glandulosa), soil erosion causes open eroded patches and the formation of large coppice dunes. The airflow patterns around the dunes and through the open areas are correlated with sand flux and erosion. This study uses wind velocity simulations from the Quick Urban and Industrial Complex (QUIC) model in combination with a sand flux parameterization to simulate sand fluxes for each of eight storms occurring in the springs of 2003 and 2004. Total sand fluxes based on the sum of all the sand collectors located within the study domain were usually within 50% of the measured values for each of the storms, with simulations for individual sand collectors also often within 50% of the measured values. Simulated fluxes based on two different sand flux parameterizations were generally within 10% of each other, differing substantially only when the sand flux was low (near the threshold velocity). Good agreement between the field observations with a Sensit instrument and QUIC simulations for the same location and time series suggests that QUIC could be used to predict the spatial and temporal variation of sand flux patterns for a domain.

Corresponding author address: George Bowker, Atmospheric Modeling Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711. Email: bowker.george@epa.gov

This article included in the NOAA/EPA Golden Jubilee special collection.

Abstract

Within areas of the Chihuahuan Desert dominated by honey mesquite bushes (Prosopis glandulosa), soil erosion causes open eroded patches and the formation of large coppice dunes. The airflow patterns around the dunes and through the open areas are correlated with sand flux and erosion. This study uses wind velocity simulations from the Quick Urban and Industrial Complex (QUIC) model in combination with a sand flux parameterization to simulate sand fluxes for each of eight storms occurring in the springs of 2003 and 2004. Total sand fluxes based on the sum of all the sand collectors located within the study domain were usually within 50% of the measured values for each of the storms, with simulations for individual sand collectors also often within 50% of the measured values. Simulated fluxes based on two different sand flux parameterizations were generally within 10% of each other, differing substantially only when the sand flux was low (near the threshold velocity). Good agreement between the field observations with a Sensit instrument and QUIC simulations for the same location and time series suggests that QUIC could be used to predict the spatial and temporal variation of sand flux patterns for a domain.

Corresponding author address: George Bowker, Atmospheric Modeling Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711. Email: bowker.george@epa.gov

This article included in the NOAA/EPA Golden Jubilee special collection.

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