Blowing dust is symptomatic of severe wind erosion and deterioration of soils in areas undergoing dessication and/or devegetation. Dust plumes on satellite images can commonly be traced to sources in marginally arable semiarid areas where protective lag gravels or vegetation have been removed and soils are dry, as demonstrated for the Portales Valley, New Mexico. Images from Landsat and manned orbiters such as Skylab and the Space Shuttle are useful for illustrating the regional relations of airborne dust plumes to source areas. Geostationary satellites such as GOES are useful in tracking the time-histories of episodic dust storms. These events sometimes go unrecognized by weather observers and are the precursors of long-term land degradation trends. In areas where soil maps and meteorological data are inadequate, satellite images provide a means for identifying problem areas where measures are needed to control or mitigate wind erosion. ?? 1986 D. Reidel Publishing Company.