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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018 / Migration of Barchan Dunes in Qatar–Controls of the Shamal, Teleconnections, Sea-Level Changes and Human Impact

Max Engel, Fabian Boesl and Helmut Brückner (2018)

Migration of Barchan Dunes in Qatar–Controls of the Shamal, Teleconnections, Sea-Level Changes and Human Impact

Geosciences, 8(7, ARTICLE NUMBER = 240).

Barchan dune fields are a dominant landscape feature in SE Qatar and a key element of the peninsula’s geodiversity. The migration of barchan dunes is mainly controlled by dune size, wind patterns, vegetation cover and human impact. We investigate the variability of dune migration in Qatar over a time period of 50 years using high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery. We then explore its relation to the regional Shamal wind system, teleconnection patterns, and limitations in sand supply associated with the transgression of the Arabian Gulf. Strong size-dependent differences in migration rates of individual dunes as well as significant decadal variability on a dune-field scale are detected, which are found to correlate with the intensity of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), in particular during years of relatively strong (weak) summer Shamals. High uncertainties associated with the extrapolation of migration rates back into the Holocene, however, do not permit further examination of the timing of the loss of sand supply and the onset of the mid-Holocene relative sea-level (RSL) highstand. For the youngest phase considered in this study (2006–2015), human impact has likely accelerated dune migration under a weakening Shamal regime through sand mining and excessive vehicle traffic upwind of the core study area.

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