Think about a tornado or a storm so strong it knocks down trees. These are just two examples that demonstrate the great strength of wind. Wind is very powerful and can drastically change a physical environment. Wind erosion, which is the process of breaking down and dispersing particles by wind movement, is one way that wind can alter an environment.
A historic example of wind erosion is the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. During this period, many states in the Great Plains region of the United States experienced severe drought, which resulted in extremely dry soil. Strong winds would then blow and pick up the dry soil, causing a dust storm. The soil was carried high in the air and transported long distances. These dust storms were so large and overwhelming that they often blocked the sun completely.
Wind erosion has the greatest impact on areas with dry soil because it is easier for wind to pick up and transport dry, light soil than it is to pick up wet soil. Like the drought-ridden Great Plains during the Dust Bowl, desert regions are also very susceptible to wind erosion. Characteristically, deserts have dry soil, or sand, that is easy to transport. Also, deserts often have fewer physical barriers, such as hills, trees, or other structures, that can slow the wind movement. Due to this lack of physical barriers, desert winds have less slowing them down or stopping their movement and are able to transport particles easier and farther.
Wind erosion can occur by two different methods, which are abrasion and deflation. These two methods of wind erosion both involve the erosion and dispersal of particles, but they shape the desert landscape in very different ways.
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