Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory
Title: Soil erosion: 20th century equations with 21st century data? Authors
Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 26, 2012
Publication Date: April 23, 2012
Citation: Beeson, P.C., Sadeghi, A.M., Lang, M.W. 2012. Soil erosion: 20th century equations with 21st century data [abstract]. Abs. 4. BARC Poster Day. Technical Abstract: The Dust Bowl of the 1930's focused the attention of the US on soil erosion and land conservation. The Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) was the result of this effort and has remained one of the most widely used equations for soil erosion prediction world-wide. This empirical relationship has been incorporated into many computer-based water quality models critical for solving environmental and land management problems. However, the sources of information needed to solve the equation have changed during the last 70 years. For example, the derivation of slope, the most critical topographic value used in the equation, has changed dramatically since the development of the original model. It is now often extracted from digital elevation models derived from aerial laser scanners. The resulting values are markedly different than those determined using 1940’s era methods and this change in data source significantly alters soil loss predicted by the USLE. Data collection methods, in general, will continue to evolve as technology advances, but we need to make sure that older relationships and equations reflect these improvements to ensure correct erosion predictions for land conservation.