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Wind erosion and soil carbon dynamics in south-western Australia

Harper, R.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-0268-2917, Gilkes, R.J., Hill, M.J. and Carter, D.J. (2010) Wind erosion and soil carbon dynamics in south-western Australia. Aeolian Research, 1 (3-4). pp. 129-141.

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The incidence of wind erosion and its affect on soil organic carbon content was assessed in a dryland farming system near Jerramungup, Western Australia, using remote sensing, ground observations and soil analysis. Relationships were found between the patterns of wind erosion, past geomorphic processes and an array of soil attributes. These associations can be used to identify those soils that are most susceptible to erosion and thus soil carbon loss. Despite strong evidence of relict aeolian activity associated with a previous more arid climate, the incidence of contemporary wind erosion was only partly related to past geomorphological processes. Quartzose dune sands were particularly susceptible to erosion (47% of total area eroded), whereas texture contrast soils formed on clayey, wind-formed lunettes (16%) and deeply weathered regolith were less eroded (34%). Soils formed on stripped regolith and on loamy surfaced lunettes and swales were not eroded. Wind erosion was strongly related to soil particle size distribution and surface horizon depth, only occurring on sandy surfaced soils, with <5% clay and <3% silt and >50 cm deep. The incidence of erosion markedly increased with small decreases in clay and silt contents below these thresholds. Wind erosion resulted in the loss of ∼3% of the total stock of carbon to 1 m depth or 3.6 t C ha-1 for the eroded soils. The consideration of wind erosion induced carbon loss, both from the standpoint of sustaining farmland productivity and also in producing accurate national carbon accounts, at both the project and national scales, requires resolution.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
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