The Sand Hills of Nebraska are thought to be the largest dune field in the western hemisphere. They are 265 miles long at their widest point and over 125 miles across. They cover one-fourth of the state of Nebraska and are larger than several North American states.
The Nebraska Sand Hills were originally formed in the early Wisconsinan period over 8,000 years ago during a prolonged drought. They have been reworked in two episodes of drought since then. The sand that forms the dunes came from ancient alluvial deposits in the same region. The dunes continue to be reformed on the western edge of the Sand Hills. The process is ongoing and might be exacerbated by global warming.
There has been a research effort to understand, map and classify the dunes of the Sand Hills since the 1960's. H.T.U. Smith was the first to publish his efforts to map and classify the dunes. Modern scientists have increased their understanding through the use of high altitude aerial photography and satellite imagery. Much has been done the classify, measure and map the Sand Hills since the days of H.T.U. Smith. Continued review of satellite imagery will help scientists track changes and future developments of the Nebraska Sand Hills.
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