The Physical Environment
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Chapter 20
Eolian Systems

star dunes

Part of star dunes, showing three curving arms with
steep slip faces oriented in various directions, Namib Desert.
Courtesy USGS

Geomorphic processes performed by the wind are called eolian processes, or aeolian after the Greek god of the wind Aeolus. The work of wind shapes the Earth's surface into landforms from the sublime to the spectacular. Though dominating dry climates, eolian processes are also effective in humid regions as well. Here you will become familiar with the processes that create the vast sand seas of the Sahara desert to the wind blown silt-enriched soils of the central United States.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • Describe the factors that control and explain the processes of wind erosion, transportation, and deposition.
  • Describe the environment and explain how various dunes form.
  • Describe what loess is and explain its formation and distribution.
  • Describe the impact of climate change on eolian processes and landforms.

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For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
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Michael Ritter (
Last revised 6/5/12

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