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Eolian features provide a record of the interaction between winds and the Earth’s surface. Most eolian features are identifiable on aerial photographs; some are large enough to be mapped from LANDSAT imagery. Therefore, eolian features can be remotely identified and interpreted in terms of the strength and flow pattern of the winds that produced them.

The techniques that are useful in interpreting wind patterns from eolian features include: (1) Interpretation of wind direction, wind energy, and wind velocity from sand dunes and dune fields; (2) interpretation of wind direction and wind velocity from playas; and (3) interpretation of wind direction and relative wind velocity from scour features, dust and smoke plumes, vegetation patterns, and snow drifts.

Wind patterns can be interpreted from eolian features even if the researcher does not have a direct knowledge of the field area nor ancillary data from wind-measuring stations in the region. However, the reliability of the interpretation and the amount of information that can be derived from eolian features are greatly increased if the observer has meteorological and sedimentological information about the area.

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