Earth Science

Human Impacts on the Earth Environment

Soil Erosion

Study Tip
Think of water and wind as enemies to soil and trees and vegetation as protectors since they prevent water and wind from penetrating the soil.

Causes

  • Activities that increase soil erosion involve ground disturbance, removal of vegetation, and the drying of the ground.  
Study Tip
Study Tip
The same way a person may cast a shadow over another person when they stand under the sun, planets or celestial bodies that have aligned themselves cast shadows over one another as well.
Think of water and wind as enemies to soil and trees and vegetation as protectors since they prevent water and wind from penetrating the soil.

Natural Erosion

  • Agents of soil erosion are water, wind, ice, and gravity.
  • Water and wind are the primary agents of soil erosion because they can pick up soil and displace it.
  • Water is often the leading cause for soil erosion because water is powerful and it is abundant.
  • Wind has the ability to pick up dust and can cause heavy erosion  
Erosion has the power to smooth hills and collapse cliffs.
Erosion has the power to smooth hills and collapse cliffs.

Agricultural Erosion

  • Agriculture is the largest contributor to soil pollutions that humans directly cause.
  • Farming removes native plants, and plowing land loosens up nutrient-rich dirt that could be blown away.
  • Animals grazing on farmland can expose dirt and pull up plants.

Urban Factors

Loggers cut down trees that protect the soil, and removes Leaf Litter that is important in preventing erosion.

  • Construction and urban development greatly reduces the amount of water and rainfall that enters the ground, which results in erosion nearby.
  • Even activities like mountain biking and hiking can lead to erosion, since these activities also disturb the landscape in such a way that can hinder plant growth.
agriculture and animal grazing
As a result of agriculture and animal grazing, erosion can slow or halt future plant growth.
Concept Check
  • What causes soil pollution and erosion?
  • What is erosion responsible for?
  • What contributes to the amount of direct that becomes eroded?