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Research Article Open Access
Developers of renewable energy installations in southern California need to evaluate the risks to facility operations from proximity to active desert dunes. This study first validated Landsat image spectral data using ground-based data collection of aeolian sand migration rate measurements surveyed in Arizona as an accurate method for characterizing dune mobility. The predominant direction of measured sand dune movements was correctly mapped at this site from the satellite imagery, as well as the migration distances of the leading edges of sand dunes over the entire 1992-2010 monitoring period. Application of the Landsat image method to two dune systems in southern California demonstrated its usefulness for mapping sand migration patterns and rates. Between 1995 and 2014, Palen Dunes lost over half of its stable dune surface and increased its sand accumulation zone by nearly that same area coverage. In contrast, changes in the sand movement patterns at Kelso Dunes were not apparent, perhaps due in to its more constraining mountain landscape features. These results have an immediate application for understanding future sand transport and characterizing potential impacts to nearby utility-scale solar energy installations.
Sand dune, Migratio, Landsat, Palen dunes, Kelso dunes, Geomatics, Geophysics, Geovisualization