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Special Issue "Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2022) | Viewed by 12291

Special Issue Editors

Dr. José Vicente Pérez-Peña
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geodynamics, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
Interests: tectonic geomorphology; GIS; active tectonics; landscape evolution
Prof. Dr. Álvaro Gómez-Gutiérrez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Research Institute for Sustainable Territorial Development, University of Extremadura, 10071 Cáceres, Spain
Interests: geomorphology; photogrammetry; UAV; LIDAR; digital terrain analysis; spatial modelling
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Quantifying landscape evolution and erosion are two of the hot topics in present-day geomorphological and active tectonic research. In this regard, remote sensing has experienced a great development in the last years providing one of the main tools to get information about the present-day topography and active processes. Worldwide Digital Elevation Models (DEM) obtained from RADAR or local ones constructed by UAV or LiDAR techniques are two of the main sources of information about the present-day topography at regional and local scales respectively. Multi-temporal studies based on series of optical images, InSAR techniques or DEMs of Differences approaches provide powerful information to detect, quantify and model changes in topography and understand underlying processes. Recently adopted 4D and real-time monitoring approaches allow to elucidate the role of individual events on erosion and to establish accurate frequency-magnitude relationships.

In this special issue we want to compile the state-of-the-art research that specifically addresses how remote sensing is being used in landscape evolution studies and to monitor, quantify and model erosion. Review contributions are welcomed as well as papers describing new methodologies, or outstanding case-studies.

Dr. José Vicente Pérez-Peña
Dr. Álvaro Gómez Gutiérrez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • InSAR
  • monitoring erosion
  • UAV
  • LiDAR
  • photogrammetry
  • tectonic geomorphology
  • geomorphic indexes
  • tectonic activity

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Tectono-Geomorphic Analysis in Low Relief, Low Tectonic Activity Areas: Case Study of the Temiskaming Region in the Western Quebec Seismic Zone (WQSZ), Eastern Canada
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(15), 3587; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14153587 - 26 Jul 2022
Viewed by 469
Abstract
We designed a workflow to investigate areas of potential neotectonic deformation, making use of well-developed techniques, but applied to a site characterized by low relief and low or moderate tectonic activity. In this pilot study, we targeted the Temiskaming Graben, in Eastern Canada, [...] Read more.
We designed a workflow to investigate areas of potential neotectonic deformation, making use of well-developed techniques, but applied to a site characterized by low relief and low or moderate tectonic activity. In this pilot study, we targeted the Temiskaming Graben, in Eastern Canada, where recent and ongoing geophysical and sedimentological investigations have revealed recent activity along this ancient structure. The dataset compiled for this experimental study covers an area of nearly 147 square km across the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For efficiency in terms of computational resources, we first performed cluster analysis on knickpoint location, identifying seven areas with a high density of disruptions along river profiles. We then performed more detailed morphometric analysis at 30 m resolution, identifying knickpoints along river profiles, calculating the hypsometric integral across the landscape with a moving window, and mapping and comparing lineaments with known structural features. The results of our workflow showed that these three techniques can be efficiently combined for neotectonic analysis, and the synergistic approach strengthens the reliability and accuracy of our results. Our research extends the application of morphometric analysis, commonly used for exploring areas with intense tectonism and high topography, to areas that are characterized by low relief and low or moderate tectonic activity. The new areas identified with the workflow proposed in this research require ground-truthing through mapping and shallow geophysical investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
Spatial Modelling of Vineyard Erosion in the Neszmély Wine Region, Hungary Using Proximal Sensing
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(14), 3463; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14143463 - 19 Jul 2022
Viewed by 553
Abstract
Intense soil erosion in the northern part of the Gerecse Hills, Hungary, is causing significant damage to vineyards in the area. Three vineyards in the Neszmély Wine Region were investigated to quantify the amount of eroded soils. The method was based on monitoring [...] Read more.
Intense soil erosion in the northern part of the Gerecse Hills, Hungary, is causing significant damage to vineyards in the area. Three vineyards in the Neszmély Wine Region were investigated to quantify the amount of eroded soils. The method was based on monitoring vineyards for one-year between July 2019 and June 2020. Every season, a set of photographs of the vineyards were taken from an unmanned aerial vehicle. The images were processed in a photogrammetric workflow to produce high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) and orthophotos, which were used to estimate the soil loss using the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) model. Particular attention was paid to the effect of seasonal variation in vegetation cover and rainfall, and the erosion control effect of the inter-row grassing already applied in the vineyards was also modelled. The results confirm and quantify the extent to which intense summer rainfall has a more significant effect on erosion compared to autumn or winter rainfall. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
A New Systematic Framework for Optimization of Multi-Temporal Terrestrial LiDAR Surveys over Complex Gully Morphology
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(14), 3366; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14143366 - 13 Jul 2022
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Terrestrial LiDAR scanning (TLS) has in preceding years emerged as one of the most accurate and reliable geospatial methods for the creation of very-high resolution (VHR) models over gullies and other complex geomorphic features. Rough terrain morphology and rapid erosion induced spatio-temporal changes [...] Read more.
Terrestrial LiDAR scanning (TLS) has in preceding years emerged as one of the most accurate and reliable geospatial methods for the creation of very-high resolution (VHR) models over gullies and other complex geomorphic features. Rough terrain morphology and rapid erosion induced spatio-temporal changes (STCs) can lead to significant challenges in multi-temporal field TLS surveys. In this study, we present a newly developed systematic framework for the optimization of multi-temporal terrestrial LiDAR surveys through the implementation of thorough systematic pre-survey planning and field preparation phases. The developed systematic framework is aimed at increase of accuracy and repeatability of multi-temporal TLS surveys, where optimal TLS positions are determined based on visibility analysis. The whole process of selection of optimal TLS positions was automated with the developed TLS positioning tool (TPT), which allows the user to adjust the parameters of visibility analysis to local terrain characteristics and the specifications of available terrestrial laser scanners. Application and validation of the developed framework were carried out over the gully Santiš (1226.97 m2), located at Pag Island (Croatia). Eight optimal TLS positions were determined by the TPT tool, from which planned coverage included almost 97% of the whole gully area and 99.10% of complex gully headcut morphology. In order to validate the performance of the applied framework, multi-temporal TLS surveys were carried out over the gully Santiš in December 2019 and 2020 using the Faro Focus M70 TLS. Field multi-temporal TLS surveys have confirmed the accuracy and reliability of the developed systematic framework, where very-high coverage (>95%) was achieved. Shadowing effects within the complex overhangs in the gully headcut and deeply incised sub-channels were successfully minimalized, thus allowing accurate detection and quantification of erosion induced STCs. Detection of intensive erosion induced STCs within the observed one-year period was carried out for the chosen part of the gully headcut. Most of the detected STCs were related to the mass collapse and gradual uphill retreat of the headcut, where in total 2.42 m2 of soil has been eroded. The developed optimization framework has significantly facilitated the implementation of multi-temporal TLS surveys, raising both their accuracy and repeatability. Therefore, it has great potential for further application over gullies and other complex geomorphic features where accurate multi-temporal TLS surveys are required for monitoring and detection of different STCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
Automatic Extraction of Mountain River Surface and Width Based on Multisource High-Resolution Satellite Images
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(10), 2370; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14102370 - 14 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
The extraction of high-resolution geomorphic information from remote sensing images is a key technology for supporting mountain river research. Extracting small rivers (width < 90 m) from complex backgrounds based on satellite images remains a challenging issue. In this research, we propose an [...] Read more.
The extraction of high-resolution geomorphic information from remote sensing images is a key technology for supporting mountain river research. Extracting small rivers (width < 90 m) from complex backgrounds based on satellite images remains a challenging issue. In this research, we propose an improved random forest (RF) algorithm, RF-ANN (artificial neural network), by using neural networks and thermal infrared data for the extraction of river surfaces. We also develop an automated river width extraction (ARWE) method based on the central axis transformation algorithm and centerline automatic correction algorithm for the automatic extraction of the river widths across the whole basin. We chose the Huangfuchuan River Basin on the Loess Plateau, China, as a case study area. Chinese GF-1 and ZY-3 satellite images were implemented as the primary data source. We extracted the bankfull river surface and river widths of the Huangfuchuan River by using these two improved methods. The results show that the RF-ANN method has a total river surface extraction accuracy of 94.7%, and the extracted river surfaces cover more than 85% of the order 3 DEM river network. By implementing high-resolution DEM and thermal infrared data, RF-ANN effectively eliminates the disturbance of shadows of mountains and other features, which ensures the high accuracy of the extracted widths. It was verified that the maximum and minimum river widths that can be extracted in the Huangfuchuan River Basin are 297.4 m and 6.1 m, respectively. The overall error of river width extraction is 0.97 m, which is less than half of the pixel length of remote sensing images. The R2 and root mean square error (RMSE) of the estimated river width values are 0.99 and 1.49, respectively. For tiny rivers with widths narrower than 10 m, the error of river width extraction is 10.9%. The error of thin rivers whose widths range from 10 to 30 m is 4.9%. For small rivers ranging from 30 to 90 and rivers wider than 90 m, the error is 1.1% and 0.6%, respectively. The new approach provides an effective method for extracting the surface and width of mountain rivers in topographically complex regions by using high-resolution satellite images, which may provide a database for estimating river carbon emissions and related research in fluvial morphology and water resource management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
Modeling Gully Erosion Susceptibility to Evaluate Human Impact on a Local Landscape System in Tigray, Ethiopia
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(10), 2009; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13102009 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1538
Abstract
In recent years, modeling gully erosion susceptibility has become an increasingly popular approach for assessing the impact of different land degradation factors. However, different forms of human influence have so far not been identified in order to form an independent model. We investigate [...] Read more.
In recent years, modeling gully erosion susceptibility has become an increasingly popular approach for assessing the impact of different land degradation factors. However, different forms of human influence have so far not been identified in order to form an independent model. We investigate the spatial relation between gully erosion and distance to settlements and footpaths, as typical areas of human interaction, with the natural environment in rural African areas. Gullies are common features in the Ethiopian Highlands, where they often hinder agricultural productivity. Within a catchment in the north Ethiopian Highlands, 16 environmental and human-related variables are mapped and categorized. The resulting susceptibility to gully erosion is predicted by applying the Random Forest (RF) machine learning algorithm. Human-related and environmental factors are used to generate independent susceptibility models and form an additional inclusive model. The resulting models are compared and evaluated by applying a change detection technique. All models predict the locations of most gullies, while 28% of gully locations are exclusively predicted using human-related factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
Combining SfM Photogrammetry and Terrestrial Laser Scanning to Assess Event-Scale Sediment Budgets along a Gravel-Bed Ephemeral Stream
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(21), 3624; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12213624 - 04 Nov 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1749
Abstract
Stream power represents the rate of energy expenditure along a stream reach and can be calculated using topographic data acquired via structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). This study sought to quantitatively relate morphological adjustments in the Azohía Rambla, a gravel-bed [...] Read more.
Stream power represents the rate of energy expenditure along a stream reach and can be calculated using topographic data acquired via structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). This study sought to quantitatively relate morphological adjustments in the Azohía Rambla, a gravel-bed ephemeral stream in southeastern Spain, to stream power (ω), critical power (ωc), and energy gradients (∂ω/∂s), along different reference channel reaches of 200 to 300 m in length. High-resolution digital terrain models (HRDTMs), combined with ortophotographs and point clouds from 2018, 2019, and 2020, and ground-based surveys, were used to estimate the spatial variability of morphological sediment budgets and to assess channel bed mobility during the study period at different spatial scales: reference channel reaches (RCRs), pilot bed survey areas (PBSAs), and representative geomorphic units (RGUs). The optimized complementary role of the SfM technique and terrestrial laser scanning allowed the generation of accurate and reliable HRDTMs, upon which a 1-D hydrodynamic model was calibrated and sediment budgets calculated. The resulting high-resolution maps allowed a spatially explicit analysis of stream power and transport efficiency in relation to volumes of erosion and deposition in the RCR and PBSA. In addition, net incision or downcutting and vertical sedimentary accretion were monitored for each flood event in relation to bedforms and hydraulic variables. Sediment sources and sinks and bed armoring processes showed different trends according to the critical energy and stream power gradient, which were verified from field observations. During flows exceeding bankfull discharges (between 18 and 24 m3 s−1 according to channel reach), significant variations in ∂ω/∂s values and ω/ωc ratios (e.g., −15 < ∂ω/∂s < 15 Wm−3; ω/ωc > 2 for a peak discharge of 31 m3 s−1) were associated with a large amount of bedload mobilized upstream and vertical accretion along the middle reach (average rise height of 0.20 to 0.35 m for the same event). By contrast, more moderate peak flows (≤10 m3 s−1) only produced minor changes resulting in surface washing, selective transport, and local bed scouring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Article
Quantification of Erosion and Uplift in a Rising Orogen—A Large-Scale Perspective (Late Tortonian to Present): The Case of the Gibraltar Arc, Betic Cordillera, Southern Spain
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(21), 3492; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12213492 - 23 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1489
Abstract
The present study deals with the morphometric quantification of erosion and illustrates the uplift component triggered by denudation (isostasy) in the growth and evolution of a rising orogeny by the application of Airy isostasy concepts. The Gibraltar Arc, located in the Western–Central sector [...] Read more.
The present study deals with the morphometric quantification of erosion and illustrates the uplift component triggered by denudation (isostasy) in the growth and evolution of a rising orogeny by the application of Airy isostasy concepts. The Gibraltar Arc, located in the Western–Central sector of the Betic Cordillera, developed an exceptional geological scenario during the Messinian Salinity Crisis since the thin emerged fringe of the uprising Cordillera disconnected the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins, generating a relevant misbalance and asymmetry in the fluvial erosion between the two slopes of the emergent orogeny. Our analysis was applied to 50 individual drainage basins (spatial isostatic units) in the Western–Central Betic Cordillera, allowing us to obtain individual and bulk estimates for these isostatic parameters. GIS-based numerical estimations were obtained using LiDAR Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) provided by the Spanish Geographical Institute and reconstructed pre-incision surface models obtained from proxy paleo-elevation data, estimated from stratigraphic and geomorphological littoral to shallow marine markers. The obtained values for geophysical relief, denudation plates, erosion/uplift rates and computed accumulated uplift (245–407 ±20 m) are higher for the ancient Mediterranean slope of the orogen. On the contrary, the Atlantic slope presents an accumulated uplift of only 138–236 ±20 m, indicating the strong control of the ancient Messinian Atlantic–Mediterranean water divide. The temporal study of erosion indicates that most of the difference in uplift in the Mediterranean slope was achieved during or soon after the Messinian Salinity Crisis, resulting in mean uplift rates of 0.21 mm/y, but practically null (0.01 mm/y) for the Atlantic slope. The comparison of the geophysical relief models with proxy paleo-elevation data allowed us to assess the current state of the denudation process in the range. The results indicate that, towards the west of the range denudation compensated elevation, and is actively back-feeding isostatic rebound. Therefore, the contribution of external processes to mountain range elevation through isostasy is quantitatively estimated using elevation data. In this case, a relevant part of the surface uplift (50-55%) is undertaken by the orogen. Ultimately, the Messinian Salinity Crisis-related isostatic response to differential denudation may be behind the quaternary westward tilting of Iberia, causing more than 70% of the Peninsula to drain towards the Atlantic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Review

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Review
A Review on the Possibilities and Challenges of Today’s Soil and Soil Surface Assessment Techniques in the Context of Process-Based Soil Erosion Models
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(10), 2468; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14102468 - 20 May 2022
Viewed by 708
Abstract
To investigate relevant processes as well as to predict the possible impact of soil erosion, many soil erosion modelling tools have been developed. The most productive development of process-based models took place at the end of the 20th century. Since then, the methods [...] Read more.
To investigate relevant processes as well as to predict the possible impact of soil erosion, many soil erosion modelling tools have been developed. The most productive development of process-based models took place at the end of the 20th century. Since then, the methods available to observe and measure soil erosion features as well as methods to inter- and extrapolate such data have undergone rapid development, e.g., photogrammetry, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and sediment tracing are now readily available methods, which can be applied by a broader community with lower effort. This review takes 13 process-based soil erosion models and different assessment techniques into account. It shows where and how such methods were already implemented in soil erosion modelling approaches. Several areas were found in which the models miss the capability to fully implement the information, which can be drawn from the now-available observation and data preparation methods. So far, most process-based models are not capable of implementing cross-scale erosional processes and can only in parts profit from the available resolution on a temporal and spatial scale. We conclude that the models’ process description, adaptability to scale, parameterization, and calibration need further development. The main challenge is to enhance the models, so they are able to simulate soil erosion processes as complex as they need to be. Thanks to the progress made in data acquisition techniques, achieving this aim is closer than ever, if models are able to reap the benefit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Other

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Technical Note
What Is the Impact of Tectonic Plate Movement on Country Size? A Long-Term Forecast
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(23), 4872; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13234872 - 30 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1568
Abstract
The Earth’s surface is under permanent alteration with the area of some nations growing or shrinking due to natural or man-made processes, for example sea level change. Here, based on the NUVEL 1A model, we forecast (in 10, 25, and 50 years) the [...] Read more.
The Earth’s surface is under permanent alteration with the area of some nations growing or shrinking due to natural or man-made processes, for example sea level change. Here, based on the NUVEL 1A model, we forecast (in 10, 25, and 50 years) the changes in area for countries that are located on the border of the major tectonic plates. In the analysis we identify countries that are projected to gain or lose land due to the tectonic plate movement only. Over the next 50 years, the global balance of area gains (0.4 km2) and losses (12.7 km2) is negative. Thus, due to the movements of lithospheric plates, the land surface of the Earth will decrease by 12 km2 in 50 years. Overall, the changes are not that spectacular, as in the case of changes in sea/water levels, but in some smaller countries, projected losses exceed a few thousand square metres a year, e.g., in Nepal the losses exceed 10,000 m2 year−1. Methodologically, this paper finds itself between metric analysis and essay, trying to provoke useful academic discussion and incite educators’ interests to illustrate to students the tectonic movement and its force. Limitations of the used model have been discussed in the methodology section. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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Letter
Dynamic Divide Migration as a Response to Asymmetric Uplift: An Example from the Zhongtiao Shan, North China
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(24), 4188; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12244188 - 21 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1719
Abstract
Previous numerical–analytical approaches have suggested that the main range divide prefers to migrate towards the high uplift flank in the asymmetric tectonic uplift pattern. However, natural examples recording these processes and further verifying the numerical simulations results, are still lacking. In this study, [...] Read more.
Previous numerical–analytical approaches have suggested that the main range divide prefers to migrate towards the high uplift flank in the asymmetric tectonic uplift pattern. However, natural examples recording these processes and further verifying the numerical simulations results, are still lacking. In this study, the landscape features, and the probable drainage evolution history of the Zhongtiao Shan, a roughly west-east trending, half-horst block on the southernmost tip of the Shanxi Graben System, were investigated through the geomorphic analyses (i.e., slope and steepness distributions, and the Gilbert and χ metrics). The topographic slope and steepness results indicate that the Zhongtiao Shan, controlled by the north Zhongtiao Shan normal fault, experiences asymmetric uplift and erosion patterns, with higher uplift and erosion on the north range. In addition, the Gilbert and χ metrics suggest that the western part of the main divide is currently stable, while the eastern divide is moving southward. According to the drainage divide stability criteria, we suggest that the uplift and erosion, on the fault side, balance each other well on the western part of the range, while on the eastern part, the uplift is outpaced by the erosion. In addition, a dynamic divide migration model in the asymmetric uplift condition is proposed, indicating that the interaction between uplift and erosion controls the migration and/or stability of the main divide. Deducing through this dynamic model, we suggested that the eastern segment of the north Zhongtiaoshan Fault must have experienced higher activities in the geological history, and the western fault may remain its activity along with the mountain relief generation. This gives a case that specific information on asymmetric neotectonic history and landscape evolution in an orogenic mountain can be uncovered by the proposed dynamic model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying Landscape Evolution and Erosion by Remote Sensing)
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