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Limits of windthrow-driven hillslope sediment flux due to varying storm frequency and intensity

Constantine, José Antonio, Schelhaas, Mart-Jan, Gabet, Emmanuel and Mudd, Simon Marius 2012. Limits of windthrow-driven hillslope sediment flux due to varying storm frequency and intensity. Geomorphology 175 , pp. 66-73. 10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.06.022

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The uprooting and toppling of trees during storms transports soil, exhumes bedrock, and thus influences the evolution of hillslopes. Given predicted increased storminess due to future climate change, we adapt a forest-gap model (ForGEM) to explore windthrow-driven sediment transport in a Douglas fir forest under increasingly severe wind regimes in order to better assess potential future impacts on soil erosion. Larger trees are more sensitive to wind loading and are therefore preferentially toppled as storm frequency and intensity increase. Because larger trees have larger root-plate volumes and can move large volumes of sediment, increased wind velocities lead to an increase in sediment flux. With increasingly stormier conditions, however, the proportion of large trees dwindles. The net effect of these two countervailing trends is that sediment transport increases as average annual rates of windthrow approach eight trees per hectare, but begins to decline thereafter. Our results highlight the complex relationship between climate and sediment transport, particularly when it is mediated by the biota.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate change; Hillslope diffusivity; Forest-gap model; Soil erosion; Tree throw
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0169-555X
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2017 03:37

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