Fighting wind erosion

One aspect of the combat against desertification

Issue 3 44 pp. • Published in April 2011

Author(s): Mainguet Monique, Dumay Frédéric

Wind erosion—alone or combined with other physical or socioeconomic causes—is a mechanism that may induce desertification, i.e. severe or irreversible degradation of water and soil resources. Now that this phenomenon is better understood, the model of the 1970s based on three distinct stages (causes, mechanisms, consequences) has been discarded, in view of the many feedbacks and insidious links generated by wind erosion. Timely detection of wind erosion onset thresholds with remote sensing tools (satellite images and aerial photographs), and spatial delimitation and positioning of the phenomena observed are essential to be able to efficiently combat the damaging effects of wind erosion. No field operations can be effective without prior knowledge of wind erosion mechanisms at the land-atmosphere interface.

At this interface, wind activities are organised in dynamic units on a continental scale, or so-called global wind action systems (GWAS) spanning the Saharan and Sahelian regions, or regional scale (sweeping southwards across Egypt), or so-called regional wind action system (RWAS), in which humans interact via their activities. A GWAS is divided into three (particle source, wind transport, deposition) areas, each of which may be found at several locations within the GWAS.

When striving to combat wind-induced threats, especially by controlling clay, silt and sand particle loss and, conversely, sand invasion, the sediment balance and types of prevailing dunes should be taken into account, while distinguishing between the:

  • mobility in source areas where mobile particles should be stabilised
  • mobility in transport areas where wind streams should be deflected so as to prevent human infrastructures from being filled with sand, and
  • mobility in deposition areas where sand invasion is at stake.

The first stage consists of defining the site to be protected in relation to the GWAS or RWAS (taking the topography and type of dune or mobile sand into due consideration), and assessing the surface to be stabilised or protected. The second operational stage aims at reducing the surface wind velocity through technical and biological strategies.

To ensure success, the specific features of local ecosystems and human communities must be taken into consideration and effectively tapped in wind erosion control programmes in order to minimise costs and come up with solutions that are viable for the communities involved. 

    Mainguet Monique

    Mainguet Monique

    Geomorphologist (France)

    Dumay Frédéric

    Dumay Frédéric

    Research Engineer, GEGENA² (France)


    Combattre l'érosion éolienne

    Dossier du CSFD 3  •  2006

    Combattre l'érosion éolienne

    Un volet de la lutte contre la désertification

Support

Editing, production and distribution of Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD are fully supported by this Committee thanks to the support of relevant French Ministries and AFD (French Development Agency).

  • Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche
  • Ministère des Affaires étrangères
  • Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

Opinions

The opinions expressed in these reports are endorsed by the Committee.

Contact

CSFD
Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification
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1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr




Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification

CSFD
Agropolis International
1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr

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© 2013 Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification (CSFD)

Dossiers

thématiques du CSFD

Mankind is now confronted with an issue of worldwide concern, i.e. desertification, which is both a natural phenomenon and a process induced by human activities. Our planet and natural ecosystems have never been so degraded by our presence. Long considered as a local problem, desertification is now a global issue of concern to all of us, including scientists, decision makers, citizens from both developed and developing countries. Within this setting, it is urgent to boost the awareness of civil society to convince it to get involved. People must first be given the elements necessary to better understand the desertification phenomenon and the concerns. Everyone should have access to relevant scientific knowledge in a readily understandable language and format.

Within this scope, the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD) has decided to launch a series entitled Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD, which is designed to provide sound scientific information on desertification, its implications and stakes. This series is intended for policy makers and advisers from developed and developing countries, in addition to the general public and scientific journalists involved in development and the environment. It also aims at providing teachers, trainers and trainees with additional information on various associated disciplinary fields. Lastly, it endeavours to help disseminate knowledge on the combat against desertification, land degradation, and poverty to stakeholders such as representatives of professional, nongovernmental, and international solidarity organisations.

These Dossiers are devoted to different themes such as global public goods, remote sensing, wind erosion, agroecology, pastoralism, etc, in order to take stock of current knowledge on these various subjects. The goal is also to outline debates around new ideas and concepts, including controversial issues; to expound widely used methodologies and results derived from a number of projects; and lastly to supply operational and academic references, addresses and useful websites. These Dossiers are to be broadly circulated, especially within the countries most affected by desertification, by email, through our website, and in print. Your feedback and suggestions will be much appreciated!

Scientific editing and iconography: Isabelle Amsallem, Agropolis Productions
Design and production: Olivier Piau, Agropolis Productions