It is this layer of soil that is endangered by wind and water erosion. Running water is the leading cause of soil erosion, because water is abundant and has a lot of power. Some of the dust particles may contain harmful and toxic particles such as petroleum and pesticides that can pose a severe health hazard when inhaled or ingested. These occur more often when the land is not covered with grass or plants. In some delicate habitats, even hikers’ boots can disturb the ground, so it’s important to stay on the trail (Figure 7). The three main forces that cause erosion are water, wind, and ice. Agriculture is the main way humans cause soil erosion. (And Almond Butter), Oceanography vs Marine Biology (Are They Same or Different), 20+ Solid Reasons to Stop Deforestation That You Need to Know Today, Why is Biodiversity Important and Reasons For Loss of Biodiversity, Can Squirrels Eat Bread? Wind causes erosion of rock particles driven by soil and sand particles that are not tightly glued together and not insulated by vegetation. When the rivers and streams are full of soil deposits due to sedimentation and the valley levels up with the surface, the water ways begin to wash away the soils at the banks. In tropical areas, rainfall and water flow are the main reasons causing soil erosion, whereas on the Loess Plateau of China, water erosion is a great problem. Weathered rock will be removed from its original site and transported away by a … Sonia Madaan is a writer and founding editor of science education blog EarthEclipse. Up and down field tillage practices as well create pathways for surface water runoff and can speed up the soil erosion process. Soil moisture content and organic matter make up are some of the soil component aspects that determine erosivity of wind or rainfall. Although soil erosion is a natural process, human activities have greatly accelerated it. Figure 4. (And Do They Mate With Other Species). Near construction sites, dirt, picked up by the wind, is often in the air. Since Europeans settled in North America, about one-third of the topsoil in the area that is now the United States has eroded away. Deforestation causes some of the worst soil erosion. Distribution of rainfall and landscape: If the ground surface is such that rainfall distributes evenly, … Completed construction can also contribute to erosion (Figure 6). This leads to water pollution and damage to marine and freshwater habitats. The outward and downward movements of sediments and rocks on slanting or slope surfaces due to gravitational pull qualify as an important aspect of the erosion process. © 2020 . Starting with the minor soil disruption caused by the impact of falling raindrops, splash erosion moves around small particles in the upper soil layer. Greater duration and intensity of rainstorm means greater potential for soil erosion. Soil structure and composition is another factor that determines erosivity of wind or rainfall. Here are few of the major causes of soil erosion. Tillage action moves soil to convergent areas of a field where surface water runoff concentrates. Rainstorm produces four major types of soil erosion including rill erosion, gully erosion, sheet erosion, and splash erosion. (a) The bare areas of farmland are especially vulnerable to erosion. These types of erosions are caused by the impacts of raindrops on the soil surface that break down and disperse the soil particles, which are then washed away by the stormwater runoff. Wind erosion picks up dust particles of the soil and throws them into the air, causing air pollution. The flow of rivers and streams causes valley erosion. Uneven distribution of rainfall. Her passion for science education drove her to start EarthEclipse with the sole objective of finding and sharing fun and interesting science facts. Running water is one of the main cause of soil erosion. Erosion definition. All soils undergo soil erosion, but some are more vulnerable than others due to human activities and other natural causal factors. The various factors of soil erosion are: 1. Activities that remove vegetation, disturb the ground, or allow the ground to dry are activities that increase erosion. It is likely that most of the cultivated areas around the globe are vulnerable to soil erosion. This technique in parti… Erosion by Water Water is the main cause of erosion on Earth. Deforestationis a major cause of soil erosion, perhaps the main cause. Geologists estimate that 70 percent of soil erosion is caused by human activities like excessive construction, agriculture, surface mining and forestry. The wearing away of the topsoil is driven by erosion agents including the natural physical forces of wind and water, each contributing a substantial quantity of soil loss annually. Soil erosion is … Soil erosion from surface water runoff often causes serious damage to roads and tracks, especially if stabilizing techniques are not used. Such a case is evident in North America where dust winds from the Gobi desert have recurrently been a serious problem. Trees and their roots provide the soil with an anchor, as well as shelter from the wind and rain. Sheet erosion affects a whole area, when water or the wind act like a broom to clear out the topsoil. What are National Parks? What causes soil erosion? The outcomes of soil erosion are reduced agricultural productivity, ecological collapse, soil degradation, and the possibility of desertification. In the absence of plants, Soil can be carried away easily by a strong wind and water. In other words, soil erosion is the removal of the most fertile top layer of soil through water, wind and tillage. Erosion is a process that causes the soil surface to wear out; geological erosion is caused naturally by water, wind or gravity, and accelerated erosion is caused by human use of land. For instance, clay soils tend to be more resistant to soil erosion compared to sandy or loose silt soils. Some soil erosion causes are mentioned below. Grazing animals can cause erosion if they are allowed to overgraze and remove too much or all of the vegetation in a pasture. The water quality of various streams, rivers, and coastal areas has also been deteriorated as a result of soil erosion, eventually affecting the health of the local communities. It takes place in both dry and wet areas. Water and wind moving across the surface of the soil always carry away some of the soil.If the erosion processes remove top-soil only as rapidly as top-soils formed from the parent material beneath, no harm results. Why Do White Rabbits Have Red Eyes? Erosion, physical process in which soil, rock, and other surface material are removed from one location and transported to another. Soil erosion is as natural as any other type of erosion, but human activities have greatly accelerated soil erosion. Water and wind erosion are two main agents that degrade soils. Also Read: What is Soil? Deforested swatches in Brazil show up as gray amid the bright red tropical rainforest. Soil erosion is more likely where the ground has been disturbed by agriculture, grazing animals, logging, mining, construction, and recreational activities. The accumulation of soil and crop debris at the. It results in a continuous loss of topsoil, ecological degradation, soil collapse, etc. Also, the silt up can support plant life that can, in turn, cause cracks and weaken the structures. Soil erosion is a gradual process of movement and transport of the upper layer of soil (topsoil) by different agents – particularly water, wind, and mass movement – causing its deterioration in the long term. Causes of Soil Erosion Various agents, like wind, water, deforestation, overgrazing by cattle, etc., cause soil erosion. What Is Soil Erosion? Water ways may also be blocked, and it may affect water quality. The causes of soil erosion are directly related to improper landuse, and are, therefore, entirely man-made. In some arid and semiarid areas, wind can be the cause of soil erosion too. As mentioned, the predominant causes of soil erosion are either related to naturally-occurring events or influenced by the presence of human activity. Agriculture is probably the most significant activity that accelerates soil erosion because of the amount of land that is farmed and how much farming practices disturb the ground (Figure 1). Surface mining disturbs the land (Figure 5) and leaves the soil vulnerable to erosion. She loves writing on topics related to space, environment, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. 1. The tree roots hold the soil together and the tree canopy protects the soil from hard falling rain. (And Process of Formation), Causes and Effects of Marine Habitat Loss, 35+ Outstanding Facts About the Planet Earth, Advantages and Importance of Reforestation, Five Different Atmospheric Layers of the Earth, Causes and Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion, Extraordinary Ways to Protect Coral Reefs, Causes and Effects to Environmental Pollution, Causes and Effects of Ocean Acidification. Wind is also a leading cause of soil erosion because wind can pick up soil and blow it far away. We’d love your input. Logging exposes large areas of land to erosion. When vegetation is planted in the ground, the topsoil is shifted, which causes erosion. Figure 7. Trees and vegetation cover help to hold the soil particles together thereby reduces the erosive effects of erosion caused by rainfall and flooding. Soil erosion refers to the process whereby the top layer of soil is removed. Due to Soil Texture. This reduces soil quality and agricultural productivity. Soil erosion usually happens in overly disturbed soil systems especially with unfavorable weather conditions. The wind picks up the loose soil particles with its natural force and carries them away to far lands, leaving the soil sculptured and denudated. (And Can They Choke on Raisins), Can Squirrels Eat Popcorn? Tractor tires make deep grooves, which are natural pathways for water. Soil erosion is more likely where the ground has been disturbed by agriculture, grazing animals, logging, mining, construction, and recreational activities. Erodibility of soil. (a) ATVs churn up the soil, accelerating erosion. Rapidly moving stormwater, flashfloods, and flooding may also occur because of excess surface water runoff, thus, causing extreme local erosion by plucking bed rocks, forming rock cut-basins, creating potholes, and washing away the loosened soil particles. Luxury Landscape Supply explains the four common causes of soil erosion below. Dust plumes from the deserts or dry areas can cause large and widespread air pollution as the winds move. What are Natural Resources, Types and Threats to Natural Resources. Soil erosion is incredibly problematic, but it is also preventable and reducible when you take the right steps. Soil erosion is, thus, more common in desert or Barren land. Rill and gully erosion happen when impromptu streams form for water to carry away topsoil. Without plant cover, erosion can occur and sweep the land into rivers. (b) Hiking trails may become eroded. Whyte (1957) while commenting on the problem of soil erosion of Kashmir Himalayas, mentioned, “control of fluctuating grazing was made the responsibility of forest department in 1939 but this appears to have little effect and the problem is as acute as ever”. Some of the principal causes of soil erosion include: 1. Slope. While there are many different factors that can cause soil erosion, most can be broken down into two main categories: This form of erosion is a major delivery mechanism for water erosion. Fine soil is blown away by wind. Logging removes trees that protect the ground from soil erosion. Deforestation and urbanization are some of the human actions that have continued the cycle of soil loss. In this view, soil erosion has severely threatened the productivity of fertile cropping areas as they are continually degraded. Many of the tropical forests that remain are currently the site of logging because North America and Europe have already harvested many of their trees (Figure 4). Grazers expose soil by removing the plant cover for an area. Earth Eclipse. Farming activities such as tillage also significantly contribute to soil erosion. The problem may become so severe that the land can no longer be cultivated and must be abandoned. If the texture is loose that is the soil contains more of small grains and of open structure erodes faster. Although soil erosion is a natural occurrence on all land, there are certain factors that call accelerate erosion making it more noticeable and problematic. 3. Because most crops grow only in spring and summer, the land lies fallow during the winter. It gradually transforms a habitable land and the ASAL regions into deserts. Much of the world’s original forests have been logged. A land is overgrazed if too many animals are living there. (b) Slash-and-burn agriculture leaves land open for soil erosion and is one of the leading causes of soil erosion in the world. Because of soil erosion, most of the soil characteristics that support agriculture have been lost, causing ecological collapse and mass starvation. The accumulation of soil sediments in dams/drainages and along embankments can reduce their operational lifetime and efficiency. Water is the most common cause of soil erosion. Hence, wind erosion is a major source of soil degradation and desertification. Causes of Soil Erosion Soil erosion can affect infrastructural projects such as dams, drainages, and embankments. While there are many types of erosion, all have the same basic process - the removal of topsoil by wind or water. Even deforestation or reduced vegetation caused by things like forest fires are sometimes unavoidable. Common Causes of Soil Erosion #1. Soil erosion is a natural process which has increasingly been exacerbated by human activities such as agriculture and deforestation. The removal of topsoil by wind and water is called soil erosion. Silt can smother the breeding grounds of fish and equally lessens their food supply since the siltation reduces the biodiversity of algal life and beneficial aquatic plants. The different factors of Soil Erosion are: Wind: When strong winds blow, the topsoil along with the organic substance is carried away by the wind. Logging results in the loss of leaf litter, or dead leaves, bark, and branches on the forest floor. How do Rainbows Form? Runoff washes away the soil particles from sloping and bare lands while wind blows … Agricultural tillage depending on the machinery used also breaks down the soil particles, making the soils vulnerable to erosion by water. Causes of Soil Erosion. Soil erosion is a continuous process that occurs either slowly or at an alarming rate. The type of soil moreover affects the potentiality of the occurrence of soil erosion. Causes of Soil Erosion: Soil erosion is also referred to as the creeping death. Soil erosion is a major driver of desertification. Constructing buildings and roads churns up the ground and exposes soil to erosion. Leaf litter plays an important role in protecting forest soils from erosion (Figure 3). So erosion removes topsoil, but how? Soil erosion decreases soil fertility, which can negatively affect crop yields. Urban areas and parking lots result in less water entering the ground. Causes of Soil Erosion. The consequences of soil erosion are primarily centered on reduced agricultural productivity as well as soil quality. 2. This means most of the environmental problems the world face today arises from soil erosion. Soil deterioration and low water quality due to erosion and surface runoff have become severe problems worldwide. … (b) This coal mine in West Virginia covers more than 10,000 acres (15.6 square miles). Tillage erosion is the redistribution of soil through the action of tillage and gravity (Figure 8). Did you have an idea for improving this content? The wet areas include; the shores of Lake Victoria, Kigezi highlands, Nyanza province, Imatong hills in southern Tanzania. Rainstorm produces four major types of soil erosion including rill erosion, gully erosion, sheet erosion, and splash erosion. It is severe during the times of drought in the ASAL regions. This is geological erosion.. Let us have a detailed look at the causes, effects and prevention of soil erosion. Factors like heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and even mass movements are part and parcel of the cyclical nature of soil. While the slash and burn technique of deforestation introduces significant volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere it has become popular due to its speed and cost-effectiveness at clearing an area. All Rights Reserved . The water flowing in the rivers and streams tend to eat away the soils along the water systems leading to a V-shaped erosive activity. These types of erosions are caused by the impacts of raindrops on the soil surface that break down and disperse the soil particles, which are then washed away by the stormwater runoff. The transformation of natural ecosystems to pasture lands has largely contributed to increased rates of soil erosion and the loss of soil nutrients and the top soil. How Does Photosynthesis Take Place in Desert Plants? Figure 1. What are some human activities that increase the likelihood that soil will be eroded? Figure 5. Figure 6. It happens in the place where soil is not covered by plants. Also, exposed subsoil is highly erodible to the forces of water and wind. Once you know why your soil is eroding, you can take the steps to resolve the issue and pacify your neighbor. Rain and Rainwater Runoff Water. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix. The agents of soil erosion are the same as the agents of all types of erosion: water, wind, ice, or gravity. Soils eroded from logged forests clog rivers and lakes, fill estuaries, and bury coral reefs. Bank erosion happens when bodies of water sap away the topsoil near its shores. lower end of this field is an indicator of sheet erosion. Water runs off the parking lot onto nearby lands and speeds up erosion in those areas. The agricultural plants that often replace the trees cannot hold onto the soil and many of these plants, such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybean and wheat, can actually worsen soil erosion. The leaves and canopy of big, tall trees protects the soil from wind and rain. It also sends soil-laden water downstream, which can create heavy layers of sediment that prevent streams and … It results in the progressive down-slope movement of soil, causing severe soil loss on upper-slope positions and accumulation in lower-slope positions. Over time, repeated rainfall can lead to significant amounts of soil loss. Grazing animals (Figure 2) wander over large areas of pasture or natural grasslands eating grasses and shrubs. In some locations soil erosion may occur about 10 times faster than its natural rate. Deforestation and urbanization destroy the vegetation land cover. Sediments may also enter the fish gills, affecting their respiratory functions. Soil erosion eats away the top soil which is the fertile layer of the land and also the component that supports the soil’s essential microorganisms and organic matter. Accumulated sediments can also cause clogging of water ways and raises the water level leading to flooding. But, before we go into how to prevent soil erosion, you first need to understand what causes it. The process is triggered by various phenomena taking place on the planet, ranging from slow-moving ice bodies in the glacial mountains, to landslides caused by earthquakes. Man has cut too many jungles, has grazed the grasses excessively, and ploughed the land too often. What is a Habitat and Reasons For Habitat Loss and Destruction? Erosion will often occur after rock has been disintegrated or altered through weathering. This erosive activity is termed as lateral erosion which extends the valley floor and brings about a narrow floodplain. Agricultural practices such as burning and clearing of vegetation also reduce the overall vegetation cover. This usually leads to loss of biodiversity, alteration of ecosystems, land degradation, and huge economic losses. Soils eroded from agricultural lands carry pesticides, heavy metals, and fertilizers which are washed into streams and major water ways. Recreational activities may accelerate soil erosion. Some of the exposed ground is being reclaimed by planting trees. Some Other Causes of Soil Erosion: 1. As a result, the lack of land cover causes increased rates of soil erosion. In some locations, native landscapes, such as forest and grassland, are cleared, exposing the surface to erosion (in some locations the land that will be built on is farmland). The carrying away of dry soil and loose sand particles is known as deflation. In the absence of trees, it can lead to heavy erosion of topsoil. The transformations are worsened by the destructive use of the land and deforestation that leaves the soil naked and open to erosion. Of course, winter is also the stormy season in many locations, so wind and rain are available to wash soil away. If too many animals graze the same land area, the animals’ hooves pull plants out by their roots. Soil erosion is the geological process wherein soil particles are detached and transported by various agents of erosion, namely water, wind, glaciers, and gravity. Wind erosion happens when wind gusts blow away unsecured soil. Farmers remove native vegetation and then plow the land to plant new seeds. Off-road vehicles disturb the landscape and the area eventually develops bare spots where no plants can grow. Why are National Parks Important and How Do They Help the Environment? The process involves the loosening of the soil particles, blowing or washing away of the soil particles, and either ends up in the valley and faraway lands or washed away to the oceans by rivers and streams. The agents of soil erosion are the same as of other types of erosion: water, ice, wind, and gravity. Depending on the type of force, erosion can happen quickly or take thousands of years. High winds can contribute to soil erosion, particularly in dry weather periods or in the arid and semi-arid (ASAL) regions. Thus, soil erosion is a continuous process and may occur either at a relatively unnoticed rate or an alarming rate contributing to copious loss of the topsoil. (a) Disturbed land at a coal mine pit in Germany. The root structure of trees hold the soil in one place. The effects of soil erosion include: Lands used for crop production have been substantially affected by soil erosion. (And Which Foods to Avoid), Can Squirrels Eat Raisins? Figure 3. The severity of soil erosion is also dependent on the soil type and the presence of vegetation cover. While it is a natural process, caused by the weather, it is also caused by human activity, and it can cause harm to agricultural processes when it occurs rapidly and excessively. What is Soil Conservation and What are Various Ways To Conserve Soil? Put simply, the causes of soil erosion are somewhat inevitable. If soils get saturated with water after prolonged periods of intensive rain, their capacity to absorb water decreases. Soil erosion is a gradual process that occurs when the impact of water or wind detaches and removes soil particles, causing the soil to deteriorate. This erosive activity is evident in most rivers or streams especially during heavy rainfall and rapid river channel movement. This is because mass movements aids in the breakdown of the soil particles that makes them venerable to water and wind erosion. Water Runoff. Soil erosion is the washing away of the topsoil from one place to another by erosional agents like wind, water, animals, and glaciers. http://www.ck12.org/earth-science/Soil-Erosion/lesson/Soil-Erosion-HS-ES/?referrer=featured_content. What causes erosion? The loose topsoil is then transported by wind to nearby streams and waterways and become sediment or runoff, lowering the overall quality of the water. They also churn up the ground with their hooves. The soil that is most likely to erode is the nutrient-rich topsoil, which degrades the farmland. (And Which Foods Do They Actually Like), How Do Birds Mate? Causes of Soil Erosion: Various agents, like wind, water, deforestation, overgrazing by cattle, and etc., cause soil erosion. (Albinism), Can Squirrels Eat Almonds? Soil erosion is a process that involves the wearing away of the topsoil. Overstocking and overgrazing has led to reduced ground cover and break down of the soil particles, giving room for erosion and accelerating the erosive effects by wind and rain. When forests are wiped out, the land becomes exposed, leaving it vulnerable to being washed or blown away by elements. Plant roots firmly hold the soil particles together. Apart from polluting the water systems, high soil sedimentation can be catastrophic to the survival of aquatic life forms. 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