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Spatio-temporal pattern of soil degradation in a Swiss Alpine grassland catchment

Zweifel, Lauren and Meusburger, Katrin and Alewell, Christine. (2019) Spatio-temporal pattern of soil degradation in a Swiss Alpine grassland catchment. Remote sensing of environment, 235. p. 111441.

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Abstract

Soil degradation on Alpine grasslands is triggered mainly by extreme topography, prevailing climate conditions and land use practices. Suitable monitoring tools are required to assess soil erosion with high temporal and spatial resolution. In this study, we present an unprecedented and comprehensive approach based on object-based image analysis (OBIA) to map and assess all occurring erosion processes within a catchment (Urseren Valley, Switzerland). Five high-resolution (0.25-0.5m) orthophotos with RGB spectral information (SwissImage) produced during a 16-yr period were analyzed. Soil erosion sites are classified according to their type (shallow landslide or sites with reduced vegetation cover affected by sheet erosion) or the triggering land use management impacts (haying, trampling) with the Overall Accuracy ranging between 78 and 88% (Kappa 0.65-0.81) for the different years. The area affected by soil erosion increases for all classes during the study period (2000-2016) by a total of 156 ± ±"> 18% (increase consisting of 3% shallow landslides, 5% livestock trails, 46% sheet erosion and 46% management effects). Slopes at lower elevations (<1800 masl) are increasingly affected by livestock trails and sheet erosion caused by trampling and grazing as well as other management practices. For areas located above the agricultural land use, an increase in shallow landslides, as well as sheet erosion, can be observed. This points to climate change as a triggering factor of soil degradation, which has not been identified so far as a factor for soil erosion in the Urseren Valley. While OBIA yields conservative estimations mainly due to limitations of spatial resolutions, the method facilitates a comprehensive overview of the ongoing temporal and spatial development regarding soil degradation within the Urseren Valley.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Zweifel, Lauren and Alewell, Christine
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0034-4257
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:18 Dec 2019 11:02
Deposited On:18 Dec 2019 11:02

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