Enabling longer space missions

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing has reignited interest in space travel. However, almost any mission beyond the moon, whether manned or unmanned, will require the spacecraft to remain fully operational for ...

Cover crops, compost and carbon

Soil organic matter has long been known to benefit farmers. The carbon in this organic matter acts as a food source for soil microbes, which then provide other nutrients to the crops grown. Microbes, insects and small soil ...

Expert warns of climate change aggravating land degradation

Land degradation is hindering progress towards the UN's Sustainable Development goals, warns Professor Jane Rickson—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week (8 August) publishes its Special Report ...

Island cores unravel mysteries of ancient Maltese civilisation

The mysteries of an ancient civilisation that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta—and then collapsed within two generations—have been unravelled by archaeologists who analysed pollen buried deep ...

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Erosion

For morphological image processing operations, see Erosion (morphology) For use of in dermatopathology, see Erosion (dermatopathology)

Erosion is the removal of solids (sediment, soil, rock and other particles) in the natural environment. It usually occurs due to transport by wind, water, or ice; by down-slope creep of soil and other material under the force of gravity; or by living organisms, such as burrowing animals, in the case of bioerosion.

Erosion is distinguished from weathering, which is the process of chemical or physical breakdown of the minerals in the rocks, although the two processes may occur concurrently.

Erosion is a noticeable intrinsic natural process but in many places it is increased by human land use. Poor land use practices include deforestation, overgrazing, unmanaged construction activity and road-building. Land that is used for the production of agricultural crops generally experiences a significant greater rate of erosion than that of land under natural vegetation. This is particularly true if tillage is used, which reduces vegetation cover on the surface of the soil and disturbs both soil structure and plant roots that would otherwise hold the soil in place. However, improved land use practices can limit erosion, using techniques such as terrace-building, conservation tillage practices, and tree planting.

A certain amount of erosion is natural and, in fact, healthy for the ecosystem. For example, gravels continuously move downstream in watercourses. Excessive erosion, however, does cause problems, such as receiving water sedimentation, ecosystem damage and outright loss of soil.

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