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Carbon in the wind 

Research is showing that up to 1.6 million tonnes of carbon a year could be being stripped from agricultural soils by wind erosion. 

Dr Adrian Chappell, from CSIRO Land and Water, says that while there is a long history of understanding wind erosion, there is very little understanding of how much carbon from plant residue is being removed.

He says that neither Australian nor global carbon accounts have been taking into account carbon loss due to wind and dust storms.

Dr Chappell, working with experts from Australia and the US, has found there could be five times more carbon – in the form of carbon dust – in the eroded material than in the ‘parent’ topsoil that is left behind.

Dr Chappell’s research throws up new considerations for carbon sequestration schemes because ensuring carbon is being stored means also understanding, and controlling, the amount of carbon that is lost by erosion.