19770260001 | Dust storm rolling in over Pearce, Alberta, November 1942

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Dust storm rolling in over Pearce, Alberta, November 1942
November 1942, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
This artefact belongs to : © Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives
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Keys to History

In many ways, the land itself was a problem. Lethbridge is located on the boundary of two ecological areas called the Brown Soil and Dark Brown Soil zones. It is a region of extremes. Annual rainfall can vary from 194 mm to 710 mm, and extended droughts are not uncommon. Seasonal temperatures can range from -43 degrees Celsius in winter to 39 degrees Celsius in summer. The growing season averages 100 to 120 days.

The most constant element in southern Alberta's environment is wind. In winter, warm Chinook winds can blow over the mountains at more than 100 km/h, raising temperatures throughout the region by twenty to thirty degrees Celsius in a matter of hours and vapourizing the moisture provided by snow. In summer the hot, dry wind adds to the aridity of the land. In natural prairie, the soil of southwestern Alberta supports midgrasses and tallgrasses. Trees grow naturally only in river and creek valleys, where water is more plentiful and there is shelter from the wind.

  • What

    Soil erosion due to wind has always been a problem for farmers in southern Alberta. Strip farming, trash cover and no-till techniques combat the effects of the wind.

  • Where

    Chris Gibson took this photograph showing a dust storm rolling in over Pearce Alberta in November 1942.

  • When

    The earliest published example of a plan for strip farming was a letter from Lorenzo P. Tuff published in the Lethbridge Herald on August 7,1915. Although a novelty at the time, strip farming has become a standard soil conservation technique in southern Alberta.

  • Who

    Early experts in agriculture advocated deep ploughing and summer fallowing, two techniques that proved to be a disaster in southern Alberta.