Fallow agricultural land and steppe-formation processes are evidently capable of having a much greater effect on global air quality than was previously assumed, according to researchers who examined a dust cloud that formed over parched fields in southern Ukraine and led to extremely high concentrations of particulate matter in Central Europe.
Over two-thirds of the land area in the Ukraine consists of fields and meadows. The soil on 220,000 square kilometres is regarded as being under threat. Since the 1930s wind erosion in what was then the Soviet Union has increased considerably as a result of collectivisation in agriculture and the resultant large field areas.
In particular, this has affected the regions north of the Caucasus, the lower reaches of the Don river and eastern and southern Ukraine. It is possible that the process is also accelerated by climate change. In particular, previously unaffected semi-arid regions are continuing to dry out.