Climate change impacts on wind and water erosion on US rangelands

TitleClimate change impacts on wind and water erosion on US rangelands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsEdwards, BL, Webb, NP, Brown, DP, Elias, E, Peck, DE, Pierson, FB, Williams, CJ, Herrick, JE
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Start Page405
Date Published07/2019
Keywordsclimate change, rangeland, soil erosion, water erosion, Wind erosion

Soil erosion by water and wind in US rangelands has serious implications for rangeland health and food security and poses significant hazards to human health and communities. Accordingly, understanding how future climate change may impact soil erosion is critical for developing appropriate management strategies that mitigate negative impacts to the extent practical and potentially build resilience. Here, we review potential impacts of climate change on controls of erosion in US rangelands and discuss potential erosion responses. Projected climate changes are expected to have regionally variable effects on important controls of erosion, especially vegetation cover; community composition; frequency, magnitude, and geographical range of fire disturbance; and high intensity, erosive weather events, all of which have the potential to increase rangeland vulnerability to erosion. We identify knowledge gaps relevant to these controls and discuss management considerations to address climate change impacts to soil erosion concerns for US rangelands. In order to improve resilience and the efficacy of climate change adaptation, we recommend that existing monitoring data be used to create assessments of vulnerability, that soil erosion should be explicitly included in management benchmarks and decision support tools, and that no-regrets management options be implemented in anticipation of future impacts.