Reducing sampling uncertainty in aeolian research to improve change detection

TitleReducing sampling uncertainty in aeolian research to improve change detection
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWebb N, Chappell A., Edwards B, McCord S, Van Zee J, Cooper B, Courtright E, Duni D, Sharrat B, Tedela N
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Start Page1
Date Published04/2019
ARIS Log Number359101

Measurements of aeolian sediment transport support our understanding of the process mechanics, dust model parameterization, and assessments of the sensitivity of the dust cycle to environmental change. However, sample design principles are often overlooked in aeolian research. Here, we use high-density measurements of sediment mass flux across land use and land cover types to examine sample size and power effects on detecting change in aeolian transport. Spatial variances accounted for 5% to 45% of total with-in site variances in aeolian transport. Differences in transport were detectable for <20% of comparisons at sites with large spatial variability. Failure to detect change with intensive sampling suggests that aeolian research is very likely to be much more uncertain than recognized. We show small and selective sampling, common in aeolian research, gives the false impression that differences in aeolian transport can be detected, potentially undermining inferences about process and impacting reproducibility of aeolian research.