This report presents measurements of weather parameters and aeolian sand transport made in 2009 near selected archeological sites in the Colorado River corridor through Grand Canyon, Ariz. The quantitative methods and data discussed here form a basis for monitoring ecosystem processes that affect archeological-site stability. Combined with forthcoming work to evaluate landscape evolution at nearby archeological sites, these data can be used to document the relation between physical processes, including weather and aeolian sand transport, and their effects on the physical integrity of archeological sites. Data collected in 2009 reveal event- and seasonal-scale variations in rainfall, wind, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. Broad seasonal changes in aeolian sediment flux are also apparent at most study sites. Differences in weather patterns between 2008 and 2009 included an earlier spring windy season, greater spring precipitation even though 2009 annual rainfall totals were in general substantially lower than in 2008, and earlier onset of the reduced diurnal barometric-pressure fluctuations commonly associated with summer monsoon conditions. Weather patterns in middle to late 2009 were apparently affected by a transition of the ENSO cycle from a neutral phase to the El Ni?o phase.
The continuation of monitoring that began in 2007, and installation of additional equipment at several new sites in early 2008, allowed evaluation of the effects of the March 2008 high-flow experiment (HFE) on aeolian sand transport. As reported earlier, at 2 of the 9 sites studied, spring and summer winds in 2008 reworked the HFE sandbars to form new aeolian dunes, where sand moved inland toward larger, well-established dune fields. Observations in 2009 showed that farther inland migration of the dune at one of those two sites is likely inhibited by vegetation. At the other location, the new aeolian dune form was found to have moved 10 m inland toward older, well-established dunes during 2009, resulting in landward transport of several hundred cubic meters of new sand upslope and above the elevation reached by the peak HFE water level.
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USGS Numbered Series
2009 weather and aeolian sand-transport data from the Colorado River corridor, Grand Canyon, Arizona