Emerging ecological datasets with application for modeling North American dust emissions

TitleEmerging ecological datasets with application for modeling North American dust emissions
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMcCord SE, Stauffer NG, Garman S, Webb N
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union
Date Published12/2017
Conference LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
ARIS Log Number344674

In 2011 the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) established the Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) program to monitor the condition of BLM land and to provide data to support evidence-based management of multi-use public lands. The monitoring program shares core data collection methods with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) National Resources Inventory (NRI), implemented on private lands nationally. Combined, the two programs have sampled >30,000 locations since 2003 to provide vegetation composition, vegetation canopy height, the size distribution of inter-canopy gaps, soil texture and crusting information on rangelands and pasture lands across North America. The BLM implements AIM on more than 247.3 million acres of land across the western US, encompassing major dust source regions of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Mojave and Great Basin deserts, the Colorado Plateau, and potential high-latitude dust sources in Alaska. The AIM data are publicly available and can be used to support modeling of land surface and boundary-layer processes, including dust emission. While understanding US dust source regions and emission processes has been of national interest since the 1930s Dust Bowl, most attention has been directed to the croplands of the Great Plains and emission hot spots like Owens Lake, California. The magnitude, spatial extent and temporal dynamics of dust emissions from western dust source areas remain highly uncertain. Here, we use ensemble modeling with empirical and physically-based dust emission schemes applied to AIM monitoring data to assess regional-scale patterns of aeolian sediment mass fluxes and dust emissions. The analysis enables connections to be made between dust emission rates at source and other indicators of ecosystem function at the landscape scale. Emerging ecological datasets like AIM provide new opportunities to evaluate aeolian sediment transport responses to land surface conditions, potential interactions with disturbances (e.g., fire) and ecological change (e.g., invasive species), and the impacts of anthropogenic land use and land cover change.