|The landslide on Highway 17 last rainy season. Source: NBC Bay Area|
Soil erosion occurs when soil is exposed to the elements, which can lead to runoff, dust storms, and landslides. This is exacerbated by human activities, such the removal of vegetation whose roots hold soil in place, or the conversion of grassland into cropland.
|The Dust Bowl. Source: How Stuff Works|
The most famous case of soil erosion in the United States is perhaps the Dust Bowl, which lasted in the American Midwest in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. A prolonged summer drought had caused the exposed topsoil of farms to dry up. When unusually strong winds swept the country, they picked up the layer of fine dust and carried it all over the country in ominous black clouds. Those who experienced the Dust Bowl recall that they could put their hand right in front of their face, and not be able to see it through the dust. These storm events continued throughout the decade, leaving the already struggling farms devastated.
|A Beijing dust storm. Source: Azertac|
In Beijing, wintertime means sandstorms. Strong winds bring soil from the badly deforested forests to the east, causing unhealthy fogs of dust to envelop northern China. In an effort to mitigate these events, the Chinese government had poplar trees planted where the original forests had stood, but the forests are not ecologically complex enough to replace the old forests and winter dust storms still frequent Beijing.
|Rescue workers wade through mud following the mudslides in Montecito. Source: LA Times|
As rain continues, other areas of California that had experienced fires are also under threat of a mudslide.
Written by Coral C., Homework Assistant