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Dynamics of desert environments

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

Vegetation in semi-arid environments

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

Vegetation-landscape interactions

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. We developed the cellular automaton Vegetation and Sediment Transport model (ViSTA), which couples a vegetation distribution model with a sediment transport model. This allows us to explicitly link vegetation growth, wind flow dynamics and sediment flux over any dryland surface. ViSTA can be forced with a variety of climate and land use change scenarios. Since vegetated semi-arid landscapes are often used for pastoralism, agriculture and habitation, the model output has direct relevance to land management policies in some of the world’s most vulnerable environments.

This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. The full ViSTA model code is freely available on GitHub.

Desert stratigraphy: looking in to the past

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

Using the past to predict the future

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

Ongoing work

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

Outputs

Dryland regions are characterised by patchy vegetation, erodible surfaces and erosive aeolian processes. These components of the dryland system interact dynamically through a variety of feedbacks. Wind erosion models play a key role in simplifying wind flow and sediment transport processes on partly vegetated surfaces. However, most existing models do not recognise the heterogeneous nature of vegetated desert surfaces, or the dynamic interactions between vegetation and the physical processes responsible for landscape dynamics.

© 2021 CoHESyS-Lab