Erosion by Wind: Source, Measurement, Prediction, and Control

Authored by: Brenton S. Sharratt , R. Scott Van Pelt

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Wind erosion is the movement of soil by wind and occurs primarily in the arid and semiarid regions of the world. Loss of soil from a landscape affects not only soil productivity but also air and water quality. Indeed, atmospheric dust generated by wind erosion has resulted in communities exceeding clean air standards and lake closures due to algae blooms. The primary factors influencing wind erosion are wind, vegetative and nonerodible element cover, surface roughness, soil particle size, soil wetness, soil aggregation, and soil crusting. A wide range of passive and dynamic instruments are available for detecting instantaneous or long-term soil movement and dust emissions. These instruments are integral to monitoring and predicting wind erosion. Computer models to predict wind erosion have advanced over nearly five decades and are valuable tools to identify the impact of land management practices on erosion. The most effective management practices available today for controlling wind erosion include establishing native perennial species in deserts, rangelands, and shrublands; limiting grazing on sensitive rangelands; regulating water levels of interior seas or lakes; establishing vegetative wind strips; maintaining vegetative or crop residue cover on the soil surface; and applying chemical stabilizers to soils. Adoption of these practices by land managers to control wind erosion is influenced by an awareness of the practice, availability of resources to apply the practice, effectiveness of the practice, and economics of adopting the practice. Public support to encourage adoption or development of erosion control practices is needed to ensure that air, soil, and water resources are available to meet the needs of future generations.

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