Enhancement of wind erosion by fire-induced water repellency Academic Article uri icon


  • The occurrence of fire and the subsequent increase in wind erosion are known to affect vegetation dynamics in dryland landscapes. Fires act as a disturbance on shrubs and trees and expose the soil surface to the erosive action of wind, thereby affecting the loss and redistribution of soil nutrients. Despite the relevance of wind erosion and fires to the dynamics of arid ecosystems, the interactions between these two processes remain poorly understood. We have investigated how a representative water repellent organic compound released by burning biomass and absorbed in the soil may enhance soil credibility. To this end, we carried out a series of wind tunnel experiments, laboratory tests, and theoretical analyses to assess the effect of fire-induced water repellency on the soil susceptibility to wind erosion. The experiments were carried out using clean, well-sorted sand which was artificially coated with palmitic acid, a common water repellency inducing fatty acid found in most plants. The results indicate that fire-induced water repellency enhances soil credibility, causing a drop in wind erosion threshold velocity. The results are explained by the effect of water repellent compounds on soil-water contact angle and on the strength of interparticle wet-bonding forces. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ravi, S., D'Odorico, P., Herbert, B., Zobeck, T., & Over, T. M.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Ravi, Sujith||D'Odorico, Paolo||Herbert, Bruce||Zobeck, Ted||Over, Thomas M

publication date

  • November 2006