The Taklimakan desert is known as the largest dunefield in China and also as the world's second largest shifting sand desert. The Tarim Desert Highway, which is the first highway to cross the Taklimakan desert, was built for the purpose of oil and gas resources extraction in the Tarim area, as well as for the development of the southern area of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Shelterbelts have been planted along the highway to prevent shifting sand from burying the road. This paper analyzes the variations of moisture and salinity of the unirrigated desert soil under natural conditions in the center of Taklimakan Desert. A number of important findings indicating the moisture and salinity of the soil at capillary saturation zone were determined by the groundwater and related to the evaporation on the top. Salinity could be affected by vegetation, which was different from moisture in the soil. Meanwhile, clay layer played an important role in water preservation in the soil, which was also beneficial to the accumulation of salinity in soil. Compared with clay layer, vegetation was a decisive factor for the gathering of salinity. The findings were significant for reasonable adjustment of irrigation in the shelterbelts for the further development of the Tarim Desert Highway.

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