How Does Wind Cause Erosion?

Wind causes erosion in one of three ways: suspension, saltation or surface creep. There are many problems that arise from wind erosion, including air pollution, soil loss and dryness. Soil tillage, crop barriers and crop strips all help reduce the effects of wind erosion.

Wind erosion is a natural event, but it is generally harmful to the environment. Wind can blow soil away at any height, but according to the National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory at Purdue, over 93 percent of suspension erosion takes place at or below 3.3 feet, or one meter.

Suspension occurs when very fine dust particles and dirt are lifted into the wind. Once in the air, the particles travel very high and over long distances. This is the most easily recognizable form of wind erosion.

Most soil moved by wind erosion is by saltation. Soil particles are lifted into the air and flow horizontally across the surface of the Earth. Saltation causes severe damage to vegetation and the soil's surface.

The third way wind causes erosion is surface creep. Sometimes soil particles are too heavy to be lifted by the wind. Instead, they roll across the surface of the Earth, causing erosion.