Land degradation in global arable lands

Analysis of the spatial footprint of the multiple forms of land degradation in global arable lands. This includes 5 land degradation processes: aridity, soil erosion, vegetation decline, soil salinization and soil organic carbon decline. Data are at global scale.
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Title: Land degradation in global arable lands.
Description: Land degradation is a global environmental issue that affects the world's arable lands on a large scale, thus threatening global food production systems. This study analyzes the land degradation footprint on global arable lands, using complex geospatial data on certain major degradation processes, i.e. aridity, soil erosion, vegetation decline, soil salinization and soil organic carbon decline. By applying geostatistical techniques that are representative for identifying the incidence of the five land degradation processes in global arable lands, results showed that aridity is by far the largest singular pressure for these agricultural systems, affecting ~40% of the arable lands' area, which cover approximately 14 million km2 globally. Therefore, the world's arable lands are particularly vulnerable to uni-degradation (the incidence of a single degradation process), through large-scale aridity conditions. Also, it was found that soil erosion is another major degradation process, the unilateral impact of which affects ~20% of global arable systems.
Resolution: 1km
Time Reference:  2012
Format: GeoTIFF
Projection: Equal-area Mollweide
Input data: Aridity, soil erosion, vegetation decline, soil salinization and soil organic carbon decline.
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Release Date: 28/1/2021

Relevance: While agricultural systems are a major pillar in global food security, their productivity is currently threatened by many environmental issues triggered by anthropogenic climate change and human activities, such as land degradation. However, the planetary spatial footprint of land degradation processes on arable lands, which can be considered a major component of global agricultural systems, is still insufficiently well understood. The results of this study showed, among others, that aridity and soil erosion simultaneously affect an additional ~7% of global arable lands, which makes this synergy the most common form of multi-degradation (multiple pressure of land degradative conditions) across the world's arable areas. This study's findings can be useful for prioritizing agricultural management actions that can mitigate the negative effects of the two degradation processes or of others that currently affect many arable systems across the planet. Details can be found in the recent published paper.

Note: Many thanks to our colleagues in University of Bucharest for this collaboration. This research was funded by the Romanian Young Academy (Romania), Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (South Korea) and UEFISCDI program (Romania).

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