Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wind, Salt, and Water Are Leading Indicators of Land Degradation in Abu Dhabi

The desert lands of Abu Dhabi are subjected to various land degradation stresses, including wind erosion, salinization, waterlogging, landfilling, and overgrazing. Sustaining these lands has become an urgent matter, a recent article in Soil Survey Horizons suggests better conservation strategies and management options.

Desert environments are characterized by poor vegetative cover, strong winds, dry, non-cohesive sandy soils, and hyper-arid conditions.

In this context, the land resources of Abu Dhabi Emirate in the United Arab Emirates are subjected to various land degradation stresses, including wind erosion, salinization, waterlogging, landfilling, and overgrazing. To sustain the land resources of Abu Dhabi Emirate, land degradation is a matter of urgency and must be accorded greater significance on the environmental agenda.

Mahmoud Ali Abdelfattah, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, studied representative samples from degraded soils and analyzed them for selected parameters relevant to specific indicators. He characterizes the major land degradation indicators in Abu Dhabi Emirate and suggests better conservation strategies and management options in a recent article in Soil Survey Horizons.

The study found that, among natural forces of land degradation, wind has a major role in moving soil from loose surfaces, and mainly in dune areas. Wind is the main cause of irreversible land degradation in the arid environment of Abu Dhabi. Wind erosion indicators are formation of fall dunes, blocking of highways, dust storms, nebkha features, reduction of waterways capacity due to deposition of sand, exposure of hardpans at the surface, and gravel lag. Nebkha dunes, formed from sediment accumulations around shrubs, have been considered a reliable indicator of rapid dryland degradation. As a preventive action, afforestation has been practiced on about 330,000 ha in Abu Dhabi Emirate. In addition, many green belts in urban areas and along roads have been established. Forestry plantations are an important effort in combating wind erosion and offer multiple benefits, such as hydrological balance, enhancement of environmental quality, habitat restoration, and improved aesthetic value.

Soil salinity is also a threat to agricultural farms and coastal areas. Due to the prevailing hyper-arid conditions in Abu Dhabi Emirate, the soil receives inadequate precipitation to effectively leach salts from the soil profile. Irrigation water is the primary source of salts. The suggested prerequisite research for this problem in Abu Dhabi Emirate includes characterization, mapping, and monitoring of salt-affected soils, as well as work to better understand the sources of salts, proper leaching requirements and efficient drainage systems, how to ensure good quality irrigation water, and optimal crops.

The study also identified waterlogging as a serious problem in many of the agricultural farms. The causes of waterlogging are poor drainage conditions due to the presence of hardpans, excessive use of irrigation water, and seawater intrusion. Landfilling for urban development and construction purposes is another unique land degradation feature in the Emirate. A traditional landfilling practice commonly used in Abu Dhabi Emirate is to bring material from the desert area and dump it into the saline areas. This practice is being applied for landscaping as well as agricultural purposes and is often performed in areas close to cities, around roads, palaces, farms, gardens, parks, etc. However, this excavation harms the areas from which the soil is removed, sometimes resulting in stagnation of water. Other land degradation types presented and discussed are loss of vegetation, water erosion in uplands, compaction, sealing, crusting, and mining. The author recommends that an emirate-wide action plan needs to be developed and implemented to manage and combat all types of degradation.

The study was also presented at the International Conference on Soil Degradation, Riga, Latvia 17-19 February 2009. The study was part of the ongoing research on the soil inventory of Abu Dhabi Emirate that commenced in 2002 and is funded by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

This featured article of SSH is available for free access at until the next quarterly issue.

Soil Survey Horizons,, is a medium for expressing ideas, problems, and philosophies concerning the study of soils in the field. Articles include research updates, soil news, history of soil survey, and personal essays from the lives of soil scientists. Soil Survey Horizons is published by the Soil Science Society of America.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. For more information, visit

SSSA is the founding sponsor of an approximately 5,000-square foot exhibition, Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, which opened July 19, 2008 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>