The Link Between Soil Erosion and Climate Change



The link between soil erosion and climate change: Many people know about a lot of theeffects of climate change on our earth, but few people know that soil erosion is worsened by global warming as well. While soil erosion is a serious issue and it's something that is becoming more problematic across the world, it's not really in the public eye as a problem caused by a changing climate.   It's certainly not often linked to global warming in the same way that rising sea levels and changing weather patterns are.
Soils exposed for cropping or by intensive grazing are far more easily washed away- that much is well understood and widely talked about, but the rising frequency of extreme weather events that climate change is bringing also has an impact. Studies show that the drought cycle is becoming more severe in many areas and that extreme rainfall events are becoming more frequent- these are well established consequences of climate change. Drought periods reduce vegetation cover even in non-agricultural areas, and when heavy rains do come erosion will be far more severe. Dry, dusty soils are also vulnerable to erosion by wind.
Even in areas where drought is not expected to become a problem, the increased erosive power of intense rainfall events will still increase erosion rates. Research predicts that thenew precipitation pattern will worsen soil erosion even in regions that are not likely to be drought-affected under climate change conditions.
Climate change also causes human adaptation. Cropping rotation cycles will certainly alter as it becomes more profitable and more practical to plant different crops at different times of year or to switch production to another plant species entirely, and some research indicates that these changes in agricultural management will cause even greater soil erosion.
There is no doubt that direct erosion control measures will become more widely necessary (and hopefully more widely available and better understood) as both soil erosion and the effects of climate change get more damaging, but in order to really address the problem of soil erosion, all the drivers will have to be addressed. A move towards more informed and responsible agricultural practices is one part of the solution but the fight against climate change must also play a significant role.
The reduction of fossil fuel use and better strategies for efficient energy use could reduce the severity of global climate change, and they should be considered as strategies for combatting all the potential consequences- not just melting glaciers and increased risk of severe storms but also soil erosion and the problems that come along with it. Every concerted effort towards reducing carbon emissions and every innovative approach to renewable energy productionhelps slow down soil erosion.


Jess Spate writes widely on green topics and works as a sustainable business consultant for companies like Appalachian Outdoors and Fountain Spirit.
This content was distributed by Nathan Brown, personal growth sales consultant and promoter of information about building your own solar panels.
Image credit 1: freeloosedirt via flickr, under a Creative Commons licence
Image credit 1: Soil Science via flickr, under a creative Commons licence

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