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Air

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).

Quick facts

Wind is caused by differences in air pressure
in our atmosphere. Air moves from high pressure areas to low pressure areas. The greater the difference in pressure, the stronger the wind[3]

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 Earth Wind Map shows, in real time, wind speed and direction across the earth using a 3D map.
  • Windy.Com shows information on wind speed, gusts and direction across the world every six hours. It also collects temperature and rain information.
  • WillyWeather uses information from the Bureau of Meteorology to show real-time wind speed and gusts. It also has historical information on speed and direction averages.
  • The Bureau of Meteorology provides a static map of wind direction and speed. It also provides information on pressure, climate influences, humidity, sunlight and water.

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[2]. 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[1]. Once debris is washed ashore, wind moves waste pollution to the backshore where it gets caught on vegetation[1]. Population density also has an impact on the amount of waste pollution, particularly in communities close to the waterline[1].

Additional information


References

  1. ^ a b c Olivelli, A, Hardesty, D & Wilcox, C (2020), 'Coastal margins and backshores represent a major sink for marine debris: insights from a continental-scale analysis.', Environmental Research Letters. [online] Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab7836/pdf.
  2. ^ Rillig, MC, de Souza Machado, AA, Lehmann, A & Klümper, U (2019), 'Evolutionary implications of microplastics for soil biota', Environmental Chemistry. [online], vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 3-7. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1071/EN18118.
  3. ^ University Corporation for Atmospheric Researc (n.d.), 'Weather and climate basics - What is wind?', The National Centre for Atmospheric Research and the UCAR Office of Programs. [online] Available at: https://eo.ucar.edu/basics/wx_2_c.html [Accessed 25 September 2020].

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/

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science