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Soil Themes > Soil Erosion > Wind Erosion

Background information

Wind erosion is a widespread phenomenon causing serious soil degradation. It is estimated that about 28% of the global land area experiencing land degradation suffers from this wind-driven soil erosion process. In agricultural lands, soil erosion by wind mainly results from the removal of the finest and most biological active part of the soil richest in organic matter and nutrients. Repeated exposure to wind erosion can have permanent effects on agricultural soil degradation, making it difficult to maintain favourable soil conditions in the long run.

Wind erosion is also a European phenomenon. According to the European Environment Agency, about 42 million ha of European agricultural land may be affected by wind erosion. Local studies reported that wind erosion can affect both the semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean region and the temperate climate areas of the northern European countries. However, little is known about the extent and magnitude of wind erosion throughout Europe.

Understanding spatial and temporal patterns in land susceptibility to wind erosion is essential to design effective management strategies to control land degradation. The lack of researches, particularly at the landscape to regional scales, prevents national and European institutions from taking actions aimed at an effective mitigating of land degradation. With respect to this significant research gaps, the EC-JRC Soil started a new series of studies at Pan-European scale to assess:
Land susceptibility to wind erosion: An Index of Land Susceptibility to Wind Erosion (ILSWE) was created by combining spatiotemporal variations of the most influential wind erosion factors (i.e. climatic erosivity, soil erodibility, vegetation cover and landscape roughness).
Wind erosion susceptibility of soils: The wind-erodible fraction of soil (EF) is one of the key parameters for estimating the susceptibility of soil to wind erosion.
Quantitative assessment of soil loss potential in agricultural lands [work in progress].
Former studies: Agriculture Field Parameters on NUTS-3 regions


To get access to the data, please compile the online form; instructions will then follow how to download the data. The data download page will provide you access the page containing three available datasets:
1. ILSWE 1981-2010; 2. Wind-erodible fraction of soil (EF), and 3. Agriculture Field Parameters on NUTS-3 regions for Wind erosion research.


More Information

Pasquale Borrelli, Panos Panagos. European Commission, Institute of Environment and Sustainability, Land Resource Management Unit, Ispra, Italy.


Figure 1: Index of Land Susceptibility to Wind Erosion (ILSWE) predicted for 36 Europea Contries (at spatial resolution 500m).
Erodible fraction
Figure 2: Map of wind erosion susceptibility of European soils (500 m spatial resolution) based on the estimation of the wind-erodible fraction of soil (EF). Non-erodible surfaces (such as lakes, glaciers, bare rocks and urban areas) were described as No Data.

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European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Marc Van Liedekerke(tel. +39-0332-785179)
Panos Panagos (tel. +39-0332-785574)