Wind erosion and dust storms have led to the loss of about 1.6 million tonnes of carbon from Australian soils each year.
Carbon is an essential ingredient for the healthy soils which underpin Australia’s capability to produce enough food to feed 60 million people.
Top soil is rich in nutrients and carbon but is increasingly being blown away by dust storms such as the “Red Dawn” in Sydney in 2009. When wind lifts carbon dust into the atmosphere it changes the amount and location of soil carbon. Some carbon falls back to the ground while some leaves Australia or ends up in the ocean.
The loss affects agricultural productivity, our economy and carbon accounts. Australia’s carbon accounts have not yet taken wind or water erosion into consideration, which could have significant impacts on how we manage our landscapes.