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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Desertification and Sandstorms

Updated 03-Mar-08

Hazardous yellow sand from China covered parts of South Korea and Japan on Monday March 3, 2008, keeping people indoors as Tokyo pressed Beijing to reveal more information to the public.
Dust-enveloping Cangzhou, north China's Hebei province on Saturday.
Photo: Xinhua

Yellow dust -- fine sand from Mongolia's Gobi Desert which sometimes includes toxic chemical smog emitted by Chinese factories -- usually hits South Korea and Japan in the spring. It can cause respiratory disorders.

The sand storms have been growing in frequency and toxicity over the years because of China's rapid economic growth and has added to increased tensions with neighbors South Korea and Japan over recent years.

Japan, China and South Korea have began joint research on the phenomenon.
Japan's environment ministry recently began posting observation data and
forecasts for dust waves on the Internet.
But according to Japan, China has refused to release its own data and has
insisted that any joint findings be kept from the public.

Korea chokes on "yellow dust"

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various climatic variations, but primarily from human activities. Current desertification is taking place much faster worldwide than historically and usually arises from the demands of increased populations that settle on the land in order to grow crops and graze animals.Chief causes are deforestation, overgrazing, overdrafting of groundwater, increased soil salinity, overagriculture, and global climate change, all fundamentally caused by the burgeoning human population.

Sandstorms to hit north China in next two days 2008-03-01

Large tracts of land in Africa and China simply blew away in 2006. When land is stripped bare or robbed of rain by climate change, it oftens turns to desert.

Areas far from natural deserts can degrade quickly to barren soil, rock, or sand through poor land management. The presence of a nearby desert has no direct relationship to desertification.

Iraq sandstorm June, 2007

A number of solutions have been tried in order to reduce the rate of desertification and regain lost land; however, most measures treat symptoms of sand movement and do not address the root causes of land modification such as overgrazing and unsustainable farming. Leguminous plants, which extracts nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil, can be planted to restore fertility. Stones stacked around the base of trees collect morning dew and help retain soil moisture. Artificial grooves can be dug in the ground to retain rainfall and trap wind-blown seeds. In Iran, petroleum is being sprayed over semi-arid cropland. This coats seedlings to prevent moisture loss and stop them being blown away. Windbreaks made from trees and bushes to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspiration were widely encouraged by development agencies from the middle of the 1980s in the Sahel area of Africa.

A chief difference of prehistoric versus present desertification is the much greater rate of desertification than in prehistoric and geologic time scales, due to anthropogenic(Caused or influenced by humans) influences.

Oases and farmlands in windy regions can be protected by planting tree fences or grass belts. Sand that manages to pass through the grass belts can be caught in strips of trees planted as wind breaks 50 to 100 meters apart adjacent to the belts. Small plots of trees may also be scattered inside oases to stabilize the area. On a much larger scale, a "Green Wall of China", which will eventually stretch more than 5,700 kilometers in length, nearly as long as the Great Wall of China, is being planted in north-eastern China to protect "sandy lands" – deserts created by human
According to Chinese records, dust storms came to the capital once every seven or eight years in the 1950s, and only every two or three years in the 1970s. But by the early 1990s, they were an annual problem. Beijing's Desert Storm

Tibetan Glacier Melt Leading To Sandstorms In China May 03, 2006

330,000-ton sand fell on Beijing 2006-04-19

Sandstorm-swept China to spend billions on trees May 15, 2002


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