Earth and planetary aeolian streaks: A review

Aviv Lee Cohen-Zada, Dan Gabriel Blumberg, Shimrit Maman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Wind streaks are abundant aeolian features that have been observed on planetary surfaces by remote sensing means. They have been widely studied, particularly on Mars and Venus and to a much lesser extent on Earth. In imagery, these streaks appear as elongated features that are easily distinguishable from their surroundings. Geomorphologically, these streaks have, thus far, been interpreted as the presence or absence of small loose particles on the surface, deposited or eroded, respectively, by wind. However, the use of different (optical and radar) remote-sensing tools to study wind streaks has led to uncertain interpretations of these features and has hindered their geomorphological definition. Since wind streaks indicate the prevailing wind direction at the time of their formation, they may be used to map near-surface winds and to estimate atmospheric circulation patterns. The aim of this article is to review the main studies focusing on wind streaks and to present the most up-to-date knowledge on this topic. Moreover, a new perspective for wind streak research is suggested: As 'wind streak' is a collective term for a variety of aeolian features that when viewed from above appear as distinctive albedo surface patterns, we suggest that the term should not be used to refer to a geomorphological feature. Since the definition of wind streaks is constrained to remote sensing rather than to geomorphology and is affected by the inherent biases of remote sensing methods, we suggest that 'wind streaks' should be used as a collective term for aeolian surfaces that are discernable from above as bright and dark patterns due to alterations in the characteristics of the surface or to the presence of bedforms. To better understand the mechanisms, time-frames, climate compatibility of wind streaks and the influences of remote sensing on their appearance, we have compiled a new database containing more than 2,900 Earth wind streaks. A comprehensive study of these Earth wind streaks will make far-reaching contributions not only to the understanding of wind streaks but also to Earth and planetary climate research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-125
Number of pages18
JournalAeolian Research
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Aeolian processes
  • Mapping
  • Remote sensing
  • Wind streaks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Earth and planetary aeolian streaks: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this