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Chapter 20: Soil Erosion by Wind

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pages 483-499 (doi:10.13031/swce.2013.20) in Soil and Water Conservation Engineering, 7th Edition . Copyright 2013 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Mich.
Authors:   Rodney L. Huffman, Delmar D. Fangmeier, William J. Elliot, Stephen R. Workman
Keywords:   Soil, Water, Conservation, Environment, Soil Erosion by Wind, 20.1 Air Quality, 20.2 Wind and Water Erosion Processes, 20.3 Types of Soil Movement, 20.4 Mechanics of Wind Erosion, 20.5 Estimating Wind Erosion, Control Practices, 20.6 Cul

Introductory paragraphs: In the arid and semiarid regions of the United States, large areas are affected by wind erosion. The Great Plains region, an area especially subject to soil movement by wind, represents about 20% of the total land area in the United States. Many humid regions are also damaged by wind erosion. The areas most subject to damage are the sandy soils along streams, lakes, and coastal plains, and organic soils. Peats and mucks constitute about 10 million ha located in 34 states.

Wind erosion not only removes soil, but also damages crops, fences, buildings, and highways. Fine soil particles are lost along with nutrients, which can result in reduced crop yields. Eroded sediment particles are a nuisance for many people, and can adversely affect the health of some individuals. There are also circumstances where eroded dust obscures visibility. Such conditions can lead to fatal traffic accidents, such as the instance in 1991 involving 104 vehicles on Interstate 5 in California, resulting in 15 deaths and 150 injuries.

Dust particles can travel far, even crossing oceans. It was the deposition of dust in Washington, D.C., from wind erosion in the great plains in the 1930s that resulted in the U.S. government establishing the Soil Conservation Service. Figure 20.1 shows the distribution of wind erosion hazard in the states west of the Mississippi River.

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