Why do active and stabilized dunes coexist under the same climatic conditions?

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Abstract

Sand dunes can be active (mobile) or stable, mainly as a function of vegetation cover and wind power. However, there exists as yet unexplained evidence for the coexistence of bare mobile dunes and vegetated stabilized dunes under the same climatic conditions. We propose a model for dune vegetation cover driven by wind power that exhibits bistabilty and hysteresis with respect to the wind power. For intermediate wind power, mobile and stabilized dunes can coexist, whereas for low (or high) wind power they can be fixed (or mobile). Climatic change or human intervention can turn active dunes into stable ones and vice versa; our model predicts that prolonged droughts with stronger winds can result in dune reactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number188001
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume98
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 May 2007

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