J.H. van Boxel
- Modelling wind-blown sediment transport around single vegetation elements
- Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
- Volume | Issue number
- 36 | 9
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Wind erosion is an important soil erosion and hence a soil degradation problem in the Sahelian zone of West Africa. Potentially, the characteristic dryland vegetation with scattered trees and shrubs can provide for soil erosion protection from wind erosion, but so far adequate quantification of vegetation impacts is lacking. The aim of this study was to develop a model of wind-blown soil erosion and sediment transport around a single shrub-type vegetation element. Starting with the selection of a suitable transport equation from four possible sediment transport equations, the effects of a single vegetation element on wind speed were parameterized. The modified wind speed was then applied to a sediment transport equation to model the change in sediment mass flux around a shrub. The model was tested with field data on wind speed and sediment transport measured around isolated shrubs in a farmer's field in the north of Burkina Faso. The simple empirical equation of Radok (Journal of Glaciology19: 123-129, 1977) performed best in modelling soil erosion and sediment transport, both for the entire event duration and for each minute within an event. Universal values for the empirical constants in the sediment transport equation could not be obtained because of the large variability in soil and roughness characteristics. The pattern of wind speed, soil erosion and sediment transport behind a shrub and on either side of it was modelled. The wind speed changed in the lee of the vegetation element depending on its porosity, height and downwind position. Wind speed was recovered to the upstream speed at a downwind distance of 7·5 times the height of the shrub. The variability in wind direction created a ‘rotating’ area of influence around the shrub. Compared to field measurements the model predicted an 8% larger reduction in sediment transport in the lee of the vegetation element, and a 22% larger increase beside the vegetation element.
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