Aeolian dust is dependent on erosivity (i.e., wind speed) and erodibility (i.e., land surface conditions). The effect of erodibility on dust occurrence remains poorly understood. In this study, we proposed a composite erodibility index (dust occurrence ratio, DOR) and examined its interannual variation at a typical steppe site (Abaga-Qi) in Xilingol Grassland, China, during spring of 1974–2018. Variation in DOR is mainly responsible for dust occurrence (R2
= 0.80, p
-value < 0.001). During 2001–2018, DOR values were notably higher than those during 1974–2000. There was also a general declining trend with fluctuations. This indicates that the land surface conditions became vulnerable to wind erosion but was gradually reversed with the implementation of projects to combat desertification in recent years. To understand the relative climatic and anthropogenic impacts on erodibility, multiple regression was conducted between DOR and influencing factors for the period of 2001–2018. Precipitation (spring, summer, and winter) and temperature (summer, autumn, and winter), together with livestock population (June) explained 82% of the variation in DOR. Sheep and goat population made the greatest contribution. Therefore, reducing the number of sheep and goat could be an effective measure to prevent dust occurrence in Xilingol Grassland.
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