Erosion refers to the process of wearing away at Earth’s surface by natural forces such as wind, water and ice. Erosion also includes transporting material that has been eroded away to another location.
Erosional forces for snow, ice and water come from gravity; energy of movement comes from wind. Detachment, entrainment and transport processes often overlap multiple times within one particle’s lifetime.
Erosion is the physical process of dislodging, transporting, and dismantling weathered soil and rock with forces such as wind, running water, waves, glaciers (glaciers), gravity and underground water. Physical erosion exposes new unweathered material for chemical weathering processes to take effect.
Water erosion is one of the primary and effective forms of soil degradation. River banks become worn away over time as river currents sweep along their banks, destabilizing land surfaces and undermining stability. Furthermore, their speed and power can damage structures such as bridges and homes as they pass over them.
An area’s erosion depends on several factors, including climate, topography and vegetation. Loamy soils containing fine sand and silt particles tend to erode more readily than clay-rich ones that hold together more securely. Eroded sediment carried by water may clog rivers and streams creating devastating floods which threaten local ecosystems as well as infrastructure – this highlights why it is so crucial to control erosion.
Chemical erosion occurs when certain rocks react with air and water to weaken them over time, known as chemical weathering. Reactions include carbonation – when acid rain dissolves certain types of rock; or oxidation, when oxygen from water combines with minerals in order to soften them further.
Physical and chemical weathering both contribute to breaking large rocks down into smaller particles that become sediments, including sand, silt and mud. Gravity and ice also play a part in erosion by moving these smaller pieces along Earth’s surface – it happens all around us!
Climate (frequency, intensity and duration of rainfall), relief (topography), vegetation type and density, living things (plants, animals) and time all play a role in erosion. Plant roots can wedge themselves into cracks in rocks to slowly increase in size over time until eventually breaking apart completely and being carried downstream by wind currents, rivers, glaciers or any other form of movement to new locations.
Erosion can be a serious threat to human environments. Erosion causes soils to lose the ability to absorb essential moisture and nutrients that aid crop production; the loss of topsoil reduces food production land available worldwide, increasing hunger.
Erosion rates of an area depend on many variables, including climate, topography, vegetation and tectonic activity. Erosion tends to occur more frequently on earthen floodplains than rocky river valleys, and wind erosion plays a vital role in certain desert regions such as China’s Gobi Desert’s Badain Jaran section.
Erosion control blankets can significantly lessen these harmful effects by controlling runoff from construction sites that contains chemical residues that reduce water quality or adhere to other areas, stunting vegetation growth or poisoning wildlife.
Human-caused erosion can be just as serious, yet we still have the power to do something about it. Through our actions we can prevent soil from being lost while also taking steps to slow existing erosion processes.
Erosion occurs when dirt is exposed to high winds or harsh weather conditions like rain and flowing water, or when ground-covering plants that hold soil together are removed by people for farming or construction – an act known as overgrazing or overcropping. Deforestation, another human activity that exposes dirt to wind and rain exposure, can also contribute to erosion by taking away their protective qualities and leaving trees standing against these elements that shield the ground from wind erosion and raindrops.
Climate change can exacerbate erosion through changes to rainfall patterns, increased flooding, and higher-energy waves from rising sea levels. These conditions can result in landslides and deposits of sediment on coasts or beaches or rivers and streams; altering their quality as bodies of water as well as changing nutrient cycles which directly impact human lives.