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Geosciences 2015, 5(2), 117-126; doi:10.3390/geosciences5020117

A New European Slope Length and Steepness Factor (LS-Factor) for Modeling Soil Erosion by Water

1
European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Via Enrico Fermi 2749, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
2
Environmental Geosciences, University of Basel, Bernoullistrasse 30, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jesus Martinez-Frias
Received: 24 December 2014 / Revised: 23 March 2015 / Accepted: 23 March 2015 / Published: 3 April 2015
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Abstract

The Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) model is the most frequently used model for soil erosion risk estimation. Among the six input layers, the combined slope length and slope angle (LS-factor) has the greatest influence on soil loss at the European scale. The S-factor measures the effect of slope steepness, and the L-factor defines the impact of slope length. The combined LS-factor describes the effect of topography on soil erosion. The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) developed a new pan-European high-resolution soil erosion assessment to achieve a better understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns of soil erosion in Europe. The LS-calculation was performed using the original equation proposed by Desmet and Govers (1996) and implemented using the System for Automated Geoscientific Analyses (SAGA), which incorporates a multiple flow algorithm and contributes to a precise estimation of flow accumulation. The LS-factor dataset was calculated using a high-resolution (25 m) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for the whole European Union, resulting in an improved delineation of areas at risk of soil erosion as compared to lower-resolution datasets. This combined approach of using GIS software tools with high-resolution DEMs has been successfully applied in regional assessments in the past, and is now being applied for first time at the European scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil erosion; Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE); LS-factor; System for Automated Geoscientific Analyses (SAGA); Digital Elevation Model (DEM); Europe soil erosion; Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE); LS-factor; System for Automated Geoscientific Analyses (SAGA); Digital Elevation Model (DEM); Europe
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Panagos, P.; Borrelli, P.; Meusburger, K. A New European Slope Length and Steepness Factor (LS-Factor) for Modeling Soil Erosion by Water. Geosciences 2015, 5, 117-126.

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