An analysis is undertaken of the temporal and spatial variability of climatic parameters including precipitation, potential evaporation and wind regimes that control the aeolian activity in the Taklimakan Sand Sea. Mobility index is calculated according to the mode that Lancaster (J. Arid Environ. 14 (1988) 233) suggested. Our results show that there are apparent temporal and spatial variations for this mobility index. The annual aeolian activity varies in phase with the number of windy days, precipitation and potential evaporation. Dune development is highly consistent with distribution of the mobility index. The mobility index shows that the Taklimakan Sand Sea experienced high aeolian sand activity during the 1960s and mid-1980s, and then related sand transport was reduced from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. The mobility index cycle cannot be obtained because the available meteorological data cover only short periods. Such an approach will require longer research combined with field observations of sand movement. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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