Damage by wind-blown sand and its control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway in China
Desertification is one of the most serious environmental problems in the world, especially in the arid desert regions. Combating desertification, therefore, is an urgent task on a regional or even global scale. The Taklimakan Desert in China is the second largest mobile desert in the world and has been called the ''Dead Sea'' due to few organisms can exist in such a harsh environment. The Taklimakan Desert Highway, the longest desert highway (a total length of 446 km) across the mobile desert in the world, was built in the 1990s within the Taklimakan Desert. It has an important strategic significance regarding oil and gas resources exploration and plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of southern Xinjiang, China. However, wind-blow sand seriously damages the smoothness of the desert highway and, in this case, mechanical sand control system (including sand barrier fences and straw checkerboards) was used early in the life of the desert highway to protect the road. Unfortunately, more than 70% of the sand barrier fences and straw checkerboards have lost their functions, and the desert highway has often been buried and frequently blocked since 1999. To solve this problem, a long artificial shelterbelt with the length of 437 km was built along the desert highway since 2000. However, some potential problems still exist for the sustainable development of the desert highway, such as water shortage, strong sandstorms, extreme environmental characteristics and large maintenance costs. The study aims to provide an overview of the damages caused by wind-blown sand and the effects of sand control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway. Ultimately, we provide some suggestions for the biological sand control system to ensure the sustainable development of the Taklimakan Desert Highway, such as screening drought-resistant species to reduce the irrigation requirement and ensure the sound development of groundwater, screening halophytes to restore vegetation in the case of soil salinization, and planting cash crops, such as Cistanche, Wolfberry, Apocynum and other cash crops to decrease the high cost of maintenance on highways and shelterbelts.
wind-blown sand; sand barrier fences; artificial shelterbelt; mechanical sand control measure; biological sand control measure; sustainable development; Taklimakan Desert Highway
LI, Congjuan; WANG, Yongdong; LEI, Jiaqiang; XU, Xinwen; WANG, Shijie; FAN, Jinglong; and LI, Shengyu
"Damage by wind-blown sand and its control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway in China,"
Journal of Arid Land: Vol. 13
, Article 7.
Available at: https://egijournals.researchcommons.org/journal-of-arid-land/vol13/iss1/7