Wind picks waste up and redeposits it in many ways and places. Wind can accumulate, disperse, deposit and transport waste, depending on the wind’s strength and the landscape’s features (e.g. vegetation and fencing).
Wind patterns are influenced by a wide range of factors, from large-scale pressure patterns to the time of day and the nature of the surrounding terrain. Wind speed and direction are highly variable but there are sources available to predict wind:
The smaller and lighter the waste, the more chance it will be transported by wind. Microplastics are easily transportable between air, soil, waterways and oceans. For example, wind has been shown to transport significant amounts of microplastic from cities such as Barcelona to the remote Pyrenees mountains (an average of 365 particles landing per square metre).
Onshore winds and water levels can significantly affect the amount of debris on shorelines. Once debris is washed ashore, wind moves waste pollution to the backshore where it gets caught on vegetation. Population density also has an impact on the amount of waste pollution, particularly in communities close to the waterline.
Last updated: 11 January 2021
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Air, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/pressures/litter-illegal-dumping/pathways/air/