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Research Project: Understanding Water-Driven Ecohydrologic and Erosion Processes in the Semiarid Southwest to Improve Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

Title: Erosion and lateral surface processes

item ASSOULINE, S. - Volcani Center (ARO)
item GOVERS, G. - University Of Leuven
item Nearing, Mark

Submitted to: Vadose Zone Hydrol
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/27/2017
Publication Date: 12/14/2017
Citation: Assouline, S., Govers, G., Nearing, M.A. 2017. Erosion and lateral surface processes. Vadose Zone Hydrol. 16(12):1-4.

Interpretive Summary: This manuscript is the introduction to a special issue on Erosion and lateral surface processes to be published in Vadose Zone Journal. Experimental data and quantitative estimates of the intensity of the soil degradation process generated by soil erosion are required to (i) assess the relative importance of its impacts on the soil and water resources on a regional basis and (ii) evaluate the efficiency and the cost of the proposed alternative solutions of the problems. The multi-scale and non-linear nature of the processes involved and the high spatial and temporal resolution of the required input data create a challenging modeling environment. Fundamental knowledge gaps remain, especially hampering moving up and down along the different scales pertinent to the processes involved. Relatively little attention has been given to modeling and understanding processes of the transport over the landscape of soil material mobilized by erosion. Importantly, these issues need to be considered over different time scales: erosion processes invariably change soils and landscapes, and these changes feedback to erosion processes and rates. Such feedbacks have hitherto insufficiently been considered in erosion research. This special issue contains 12 papers that address some of these important issues.

Technical Abstract: : Erosion can cause serious agricultural and environmental hazards. It can generate severe damage to the landscape, lead to significant loss of agricultural land and consequently to reduction in agricultural productivity, induce surface water pollution due to the transport of sediments and suspended material to waterways and rivers, and alter the operation of hydraulic structures due to clogging of channels and sediment loading in reservoirs, estuaries, and oceans. The loss of soil due to erosion will also diminish its capacity to store water, which will not only negatively affect plant growth but might also increase the risks of flooding. Furthermore, erosion plays a significant role in the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus as it redistributes significant amounts of these elements over the surface of the Earth. This special issue focuses on many of these aspects and gathers studies presenting valuable experimental and monitoring data, recent relevant technologies and measuring tools, and new modeling approaches allowing a better estimate of the intensity of the degradation processes, a better assessment of their multi-scale nature, and their coupling with biogeochemical processes as well as soil functioning.