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Rates and spatial variations of soil erosion in Europe: A study based on erosion plot data

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

An extensive database of short to medium-term erosion rates as measured on erosion plots in Europe under natural rainfallwas compiled fromthe literature. Statistical analysis confirmed the dominant influence of land useand cover on soil erosion rates. Sheet and rill erosion rates are highest on bare soil; vineyards show the secondhighest soil losses, followed by other arable lands (spring crops, orchards and winter crops). A land with apermanent vegetation cover (shrubs, grassland and forest) is characterised by soil losses which are generallymore than an order of magnitude lower than those on arable land. Disturbance of permanent vegetation by fireleads to momentarily higher erosion rates but rates are still lower than those measured on arable land.We alsonoticed important regional differences in erosion rates. Erosion rates are generally much lower in theMediterranean as compared to other areas in Europe; this is mainly attributed to the high soil stoniness in theMediterranean.Measured erosion rates on arable and bare landwere related to topography (slope steepness andlength) and soil texture, while thiswas not the case for plots with a permanent land cover. We attribute this to afundamental difference in runoff generation and sediment transfer according to land cover types.On the basis of these resultswe calculated mean sheet and rill erosion rates for the European area covered by theCORINE database: estimated rill and interrill erosion rates are ca. 1.2 t ha−1 year−1 for the whole CORINE areaand ca. 3.6 t ha−1 year−1 for arable land. These estimates are much lower than some earlier estimates whichwere based on the erroneous extrapolation of small datasets. High erosion rates occur in areas dominated byvineyards, the hilly loess areas in West and Central Europe and the agricultural areas located in the piedmontareas of the major European mountain ranges.
Tijdschrift: Geomorphology
ISSN: 0169-555X
Issue: 1
Volume: 122
Pagina's: 167 - 177
Jaar van publicatie:2010