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USGS Navajo Land Use Planning Project (NLUPP)

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Remobilization of dune deposits: Drought has reactivated dunes in NE Arizona. Droughts are likely to become more severe with climate change. Shifting sands inundate roads and buildings and also affect vegetation and grazing. Dust storm impact regional air quality, release metal toxins into the environment, and add dust coatings to snow fields in the Rocky Mountains region. NLUPP research is attempting to make quantitative measures of characteristics of climatic conditions (wind, temperature, and precipitation) and substrate properties (soil, surface alluvium, dunes, bedrock, etc.). These factors, included with plant cover and land-use history factors can be used to map the effects of short term climatic changes and possibly help predict the effects of longer-term climate change.
Sand dune mobilizing during dust storm, a landsat image showing dust plumes over the Navajo Reservation, and field equipment for monitoring dust storms along the Little Colorado River drainage basin
(images source: Margaret Hiza-Redsteer, USGS Flagstaff, AZ)
 

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