Estimation of Soil Erosion Dynamics in the Koshi Basin Using Gis and Remote Sensing to Assess Priority Areas for Conservation (2016)

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High levels of water-induced erosion in the transboundary Himalayan river basins are contributing to substantial changes in basin hydrology and inundation. Basin-wide information on erosion dynamics is needed for conservation planning, but field-based studies are limited. This study used remote sensing (RS) data and a geographic information system (GIS) to estimate the spatial distribution of soil erosion across the entire Koshi basin, to identify changes between 1990 and 2010, and to develop a conservation priority map. The revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) was used in an ArcGIS environment with rainfall erosivity, soil erodibility, slope length and steepness, cover-management, and support practice factors as primary parameters. The estimated annual erosion from the basin was around 40 million tonnes (40 million tonnes in 1990 and 42 million tonnes in 2010). The results were within the range of reported levels derived from isolated plot measurements and model estimates. Erosion risk was divided into eight classes from very low to extremely high and mapped to show the spatial pattern of soil erosion risk in the basin in 1990 and 2010. The erosion risk class remained unchanged between 1990 and 2010 in close to 87% of the study area, but increased over 9.0% of the area and decreased over 3.8%, indicating an overall worsening of the situation. Areas with a high and increasing risk of erosion were identified as priority areas for conservation. The study provides the first assessment of erosion dynamics at the basin level and provides a basis for identifying conservation priorities across the Koshi basin. The model has a good potential for application in similar river basins in the Himalayan region.
Year: 2016
Language: English
In: PloS one 11 (3): e0150494-e0150494 101-110

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