Acceleration of soil erosion by different land uses in arid lands above10be natural background rates: Case study in the sonoran desert, usa

Ara Jeong, Ronald I. Dorn, Yeong Bae Seong, Byung Yong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land use changes often lead to soil erosion, land degradation, and environmental deteri-oration. However, little is known about just how much humans accelerate erosion compared to natural background rates in non-agricultural settings, despite its importance to knowing the magnitude of soil degradation. The lack of understanding of anthropogenic acceleration is especially true for arid regions. Thus, we used10Be catchment averaged denudation rates (CADRs) to obtain natural rates of soil erosion in and around the Phoenix metropolitan region, Arizona, United States. We then measured the acceleration of soil erosion by grazing, wildfire, and urban construction by comparing CADRs to erosion rates for the same watersheds, finding that: (i) grazing sometimes can increase sediment yields by up to 2.3–2.6x, (ii) human-set wildfires increased sediment yields by up to 9.7– 10.4x, (iii) after some post-fire vegetation recovered, sediment yield was then up to 4.2–4.5x the background yield, (iv) construction increased sediment yields by up to 5.0–5.6x, and (v) the sealing of urban surfaces led to one-tenth to one-half of the background sediment yields. The acceleration of erosion at the urban–rural interface in arid lands highlights the need for sustainable management of arid-region soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number834
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Arid lands
  • Be denudation rates
  • Grazing
  • Land degradation
  • Land use changes
  • Natural background rate
  • Soil erosion
  • Urban construction
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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