Wind erosion in a semiarid agricultural area of Spain: the WELSONS project

L. Gomes, J.L. Arrue, M.V. Lopez, G. Sterk, D. Richard, R. Gracia, M. Sabre, A. Gaudichet, J.P. Frangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


The co-ordinated European research project Wind Erosion and Loss of SOil Nutrients in semiarid Spain (WELSONS) was carried out from 1996 to 1999 to understand and predict the potential impacts of land-use change and management on soil degradation by wind erosion on agricultural land in Central Aragon, a semiarid desertification-threatened region in NE Spain. This paper gives a description of the project's experimental approach and an overview of the main results regarding the effects of agricultural practices (i.e. conventional, CT, versus reduced tillage, RT) on surface conditions affecting wind erosion, the mobilisation of soil particles in the saltation layer and the atmospheric emission of fine dust into the suspension layer. The characterisation of the soil surface showed that soil erodibility by wind under RT was lower than that under CT. Though strong Cierzo wind events occurred during the experimental period, only a limited amount of material was available for wind erosion mainly due to soil crusting, a common feature in the area. In spite of this, saltation transport flux was measured at CT plots for different erosion episodes. Also, significant vertical emission of dust was observed only in the CT plot. Finally, the sandblasting efficiency calculated in the present experiment could be interpreted as the result of a higher binding energy for the particles of the silt loam experimental soil compared to soils with a lighter texture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-256
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • atmospheric boundary-layer
  • size distribution
  • dust production
  • soil
  • transport
  • emission
  • sediment
  • tillage
  • aragon
  • niger


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