Ecosystem dynamics and aeolian sediment transport in the southern Kalahari

TitleEcosystem dynamics and aeolian sediment transport in the southern Kalahari
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsWebb N, Okin GS, Bhattachan A, D'Odorico P, Dintwe K, Tatlhego M
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Start Page337
Date Published06/2020
ARIS Log Number364793

Aeolian sediment transport processes are sensitive to dryland ecosystem change and can contribute to the transition of savanna grasslands to shrub-invaded and shrub-dominated states. In the southern Kalahari savanna, bush encroachment by Senegalia mellifera is a pervasive ecosystem change that creates mosaic landscapes of varying density grasses and bushes that can affect patterns of aeolian sediment transport. Herbaceous species losses and bush encroachment in the Kalahari have been associated with increased dune mobility, degraded air quality, and potential reactivation of the region as a persistent dust source. While accelerated wind erosion can be both driver and consequence of ecosystem change in the Kalahari, the role of aeolian processes and its regional impacts have not been fully established. Here, we examine preliminary data on the influence of southern Kalahari ecosystem changes on surface aerodynamic roughness and aeolian sediment transport as a basis for understanding their interactions.