Friday, February 25, 2011

Bio soil crusts holding down dust storms despite drought

A new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, warns that "sustained drought conditions across the Southwest will accelerate loss of grasses and some shrubs and increase the likelihood of dust production on disturbed soil surfaces in the future," according to an announcement by the USGS.

However, they also noted that "the community of cyanobacteria, mosses and lichens that hold the soil together in many semiarid and arid environments—biological soil crusts—prevented wind erosion from occurring at most sites despite reductions in perennial vegetation."

[right, dust storm near Arches National Park, Utah, March 2009. Credit, Matthew Van Scoyoc, USGS]

Ref: Responses of wind erosion to climate-induced vegetation changes on the Colorado Plateau, Seth M. Munsona, Jayne Belnapa, and Gregory S. Okin

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