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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. Abstract Recent research on dust emissions from eolian dunes seeks to improve regional and global emissions estimates and knowledge of dust sources, particularly with a changing climate. Dust emissions from dune fields can be more accurately estimated when considering the whole eolian system composed of active to stabilized dunes, interdunes, sand sheets, and playas. Each landform can emit different concentrations of dust depending on the supply of silt and clay, soil surface characteristics, and the degree to which the landforms are dynamic and interact. We used the Portable In Situ Wind Erosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) to measure PM10 (particulate matter <10 μm) dust emission potential from landforms in two end-member eolian systems: the White Sands dune field in New Mexico (USA), composed of gypsum, and the Monahans dune field in west Texas, composed of quartz. White Sands is a hotspot of dust emissions where dunes and the adjacent playa yield high dust fluxes up to 8.3 mg/m2/s. In contrast, the active Monahans dunes contain 100% sand and produce low dust fluxes up to 0.5 mg/m2/s, whereas adjacent stabilized sand sheets and dunes that contain silt and clay could produce up to 17.7 mg/m2/s if reactivated by climate change or anthropogenic disturbance.more »These findings have implications for present and future dust emission potential of eolian systems from the Great Plains to the southwestern United States, with unrealized emissions of >300 t/km2/yr.« less
  3. Modern Homo sapiens engage in substantial ecosystem modification, but it is difficult to detect the origins or early consequences of these behaviors. Archaeological, geochronological, geomorphological, and paleoenvironmental data from northern Malawi document a changing relationship between forager presence, ecosystem organization, and alluvial fan formation in the Late Pleistocene. Dense concentrations of Middle Stone Age artifacts and alluvial fan systems formed after ca. 92 thousand years ago, within a paleoecological context with no analog in the preceding half-million-year record. Archaeological data and principal coordinates analysis indicate that early anthropogenic fire relaxed seasonal constraints on ignitions, influencing vegetation composition and erosion. This operated in tandem with climate-driven changes in precipitation to culminate in an ecological transition to an early, pre-agricultural anthropogenic landscape.