A classification of water erosion models according to their geospatial characteristics

In this article, an extensive inventory in the literature of water erosion modelling from a geospatial point of view is conducted. Concepts of scale, spatiality and complexity are explored and clarified in a theoretical background. Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is pointed out as facilitating data mixing and model rescaling and thus increasing complexity in data-method relations. Spatial scale, temporal scale and spatial methodologies are addressed as the most determining geospatial properties underlying water erosion modelling. Setting these properties as classification criteria, 82 water erosion models are identified and classified into eight categories. As a result, a complete overview of water erosion models becomes available in a single table. The biggest share of the models is found in the category of the mechanistic pathway-type event-based models for watershed to landscape scales. In parallel, geospatial innovations that could be considered as milestones in water erosion modelling are highlighted and discussed. An alphabetical list of all models is also listed in the Appendix. For manipulating scale efficiently, two promising spatial theories are suggested for further exploitation in the future such as hierarchy theory and fractals theory. Regarding erosion applications, uncertainty analysis within GIS is considered to be necessary for further improving performance of erosion models.