Land susceptibility to wind erosion

Towards a pan-European assessment of land susceptibility to wind erosion (First assessment)

Understanding spatial and temporal patterns in land susceptibility to wind erosion is essential to design effective management strategies to control land degradation. The knowledge about the land surface susceptible to wind erosion in European contexts shows significant gaps. The lack of researches, particularly at the landscape to regional scales, prevents national and European institutions from taking actions aimed at an effective mitigating of land degradation. This study provides a preliminary pan-European assessment that delineates the spatial patterns of land susceptibility to wind erosion, and lays the groundwork for future modelling activities. An Index of Land Susceptibility to Wind Erosion (ILSWE) was created by combining spatiotemporal variations of the most influential wind erosion factors (i.e. climatic erosivity, soil erodibility, vegetation cover and landscape roughness). The sensitivity of each input factor was ranked according to fuzzy logic techniques. State-of-the-art findings within the literature on soil erodibility and land susceptibility were used to evaluate the outcomes of the proposed modelling activity. Results show that the approach is suitable for integrating wind erosion information and environmental factors. Within the 34 European countries under investigation, moderate and high levels of land susceptibility to wind erosion were predicted, ranging from 25.8 to 13.0 M ha respectively (corresponding to 5.3 and 2.9 % of total area). New insights into the geography of wind erosion susceptibility in Europe were obtained, and provide a solid basis for further investigations into the spatial variability and susceptibility of land to wind erosion across Europe.

Study Area

The study area includes the lands of the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU-28), three European Union candidate countries (i.e. Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), three potential European Union candidate countries (i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo), Norway and Switzerland (Figure 1). The total land surface is about 4.9 million km², providing living space for a population of circa 540 million people (Eurostat, 2013). According to Eurostat (2013), two-fifths of the total land area of the EU-28 (approximately 40.1%) was put to agricultural use in 2010. Hence, for the study area an agricultural area of about 1.8 million km² can be inferred.

Data

The land susceptibility to wind erosion (ILSWE) is provided in GeoTIFF Raster format (georeferenced). To get access to the data, please compile the  online form; instructions will then follow how to download the data. The data download page will provide you access the page containing three available datasets: 1. Revised Wind Erosion Equation (RWEQ) ; 2. Index of Land Susceptibility to Wind Erosion (ILSWE) 1981-2010; 3. Wind-erodible fraction of soil (EF), and 4. Agriculture Field Parameters on NUTS-3 regions for Wind erosion research.

Title: Land susceptibility to wind erosion
Description: Wind erosion is a complex geomorphic process governed by a large number of variables. Field-scale models such as the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS—Wagner, 1996) employ up to some tens of parameters to predict soil loss. A preliminary pan-European assessment of land susceptibility to wind erosion calls for a simplified and more practical approach. Therefore, a limited number of key parameters which can express the complex interactions between the variables controlling wind erosion should be considered. The ILSWE is based on the combination of the most influential parameters, i.e. climate (wind, rainfall and evaporation), soil characteristics (sand, silt, clay, CaCO3, organic matter, water-retention capacity and soil moisture) and land use (land use, percent of vegetation cover and landscape roughness). The spatial and temporal variability of factors are appropriately defined through Geographic Information System (GIS) analyses. Harmonised dataset and a unified methodology were employed to suit the pan- European scale and avoid generating misleading findings that could result from heterogeneous input data. The selected soil erosion parameters were conceptually divided into three groups, namely (i) Climate Erosivity, (ii) Soil Erodibility and (iii) Vegetation Cover and Landscape Roughness. Sensitivity to the contributing group of factors was calculated using the fuzzy logic technique, which allows the sensitivity range of each factor in Europe to be unambiguously defined. A complete description of the methodology and the application in Europe is described in the paper: 
Borrelli, P., Panagos, P., Ballabio, C., Lugato, E., Weynants, M. Montanarella, L. 2016. Towards a pan-European assessment of land susceptibility to wind erosion. Land Degradation & Development, 27(4): 1093-1105, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2318.
Spatial coverage: 28 Member States of the European Union and 8 other European States (three European Union candidate countries (Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), three potential European Union candidate countries (i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo), Norway and Switzerland). 
Pixel size: 500m 
Projection: ETRS89 Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area 
Temporal coverage:1981-2010

Input data source:LUCAS point data, European Soil Database.

Information: Pasquale Borrelli, Panos Panagos
European Commission, Institute of Environment and Sustainability, Land Resource Management Unit, Ispra, Italy. 

References - Citations
Borrelli, P., Panagos, P., Ballabio, C., Lugato, E., Weynants, M. Montanarella, L. 2016. Towards a pan-European assessment of land susceptibility to wind erosion. Land Degradation & Development, 27(4): 1093-1105, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2318

 

Maps

ILSWE
Figure 1: Index of Land Susceptibility to Wind Erosion (ILSWE) predicted for 36 Europea Contries (at spatial resolution 500m)..
Erosive days
Figure 2:Number of Erosive days A) Spatial distribution of potentially erosive days B) spatial distribution of erosive days corrected according to proposed topsoil moisture content

More information in other sources: 
Science for Environment Policy.

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Title: Soil erosion by wind
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data
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Year: 2016
Publisher: European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Language: en
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