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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL EROSION, SEDIMENT YIELD, CONSERVATION STRUCTURES, AND DSS FOR SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT ON SEMIARID RANGELAND WATERSHED

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

Title: Scales and erosion

Authors
item Cerdà, A. -
item Brazier, R. -
item NEARING, MARK
item DE Vente, J. -

Submitted to: Catena
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 15, 2012
Publication Date: January 7, 2013
Citation: Cerdà, A., Brazier, R., Nearing, M.A., De Vente, J. 2013. Scales and erosion. Catena. 102:1-2.

Interpretive Summary: Different processes of soil erosion dominate on different sizes of land areas, e.g., different spatial scales. Thus, our scientific studies of erosion at the plot scale do not necessarily allow us to understand erosion and sediment delivery to streams and rivers at the scale of watersheds. Likewise, simple measurements of sediment yields in rivers and streams do not allow us to understand how erosion takes place on a single hillslope. This is a problem for not only understanding erosion and sediment production, but also in developing mathematical models that are used to manage lands for soil conservation. In order to understand and manage lands for soil conservation at the watershed scale, we need to be able to understand and mathematically describe the integration of erosion processes across all the scales of interest, from a small portion of a hillslope to large watersheds. This paper is an introduction to a special issue of the scientific journal Catena, wherein is collected a series of reports on this subject.

Technical Abstract: There is a need to develop scale explicit understanding of erosion to overcome existing conceptual and methodological flaws in our modelling methods currently applied to understand the process of erosion, transport and deposition at the catchment scale. These models need to be based on a sound understanding and representation of the physical system, and provide useful information to guide further scientific work and/or erosion mitigation. The rest of this special issue, therefore, contains a number of papers that address the problem of scale in soil erosion studies. The papers describe efforts to improve fundamental understanding of the effects of scale on soil erosion observations, improvements in the representation of scale in existing erosion models, upscaling of erosion predictions to catchment or watershed scales.This special issue presents current work on the effects of scale on soil erosion and how our understanding of scale can be incorporated into the improvement of erosion monitoring and prediction. Comments and discussion are welcomed to build on the research presented herein and ensure that the problem of scale in erosion studies is addressed explicitly in future soil erosion research.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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