What conditions cause wind erosion?
There are 2 main climate drivers of wind erosion to keep track of:
Wind will pick up loose dry soil particles and blow them away, causing wind erosion and soil loss from your land. Understanding wind patterns is just as important as knowing the rainfall pattern.
Keep tabs on:
- name Know the names of the different winds that cross your land so that you can learn more about their patterns.
- speed An increased wind speed = increased risk of erosion on bare ground. A few strong gusts can take away just as much soil as a whole week of breezes.
- duration How long will the weather be breezy? A steady wind across moist or even wet soil will dry out the surface, making it erodible.
- direction Knowing the directional patterns can help with mitigation strategies, e.g. planting wind breaks in the right place as a buffer.
- seasonality When do these winds usually occur? For how long? These are important factors for planning ahead.
Dry soil becomes loose easily, and risks being blown away in the wind. Rain is great for the soil as well as crops and rangelands, as it reduces the risk of wind erosion as well as promoting vegetation growth which in turn protects soil from the wind.
Keep an eye on:
- wet and dry Dry soil is vulnerable; wet soil is more protected. Knowing when the dry periods are is as important as knowing when rain is coming.
- quantity In terms of wind erosion, the wetter the better. Moisture holds the surface soil together so it can't be blown away easily.
- duration Long periods of wet weather promote vegetation growth, which itself helps to protect the soil from the wind.
- seasonality When does the rain usually arrive? When is it usually dry? For how long?
- climate drivers Read about the climatic factors driving rainfall.
Where to find more info
- For more information on climate drivers in Australia, visit the Climate Kelpie website
- Read about the weather conditions that led to major Australian dust storms
- Learn more about Australian winds from NSW Department of Primary Industries
- learn more about wind erosion here at DustWatch