Problems of spatially distributed quantitative evaluation of soil erosion losses
Formulation of the problem. Water erosion of soils is the most widespread and dangerous soil degradation process in Ukraine. The development of an effective system of soil protection measures requires the use of spatially distributed mathematical models of soil erosion losses. This, in turn, highlights the problem of spatially distributed source data, which adequately reflect the spatial differentiation of factors of the erosion process, among which the main one is the relief.
The purpose of the article. Assessing the adequacy of available spatially distributed source data, including cartographic and freely distributed global digital elevation models (DEMs), for spatially distributed quantitative assessment of soil erosion losses at the local level of territorial coverage is the aim of the article. Assessing from this point of view the scale of the original cartographic data, different global DEMs and their spatial resolution, as well as the degree of spatial generalization of the original data.
Materials and methods. The solution of the set tasks was performed by the method of simulation modeling with the use of physical-statistical GIS-realized mathematical model of soil erosion-accumulation, developed at Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University. Source data arrays were tested with DEMs SRTM90 and SRTM30 with a spatial resolution of 3 and 1 angular seconds, respectively, and AW3D30 with a spatial resolution of 1 angular second, as well as with cartographic DEMs based on topographic maps of scale 1:10000 and 1:25000. For testing the initial data, three test plots with an area of 2.67, 0.59 and 0.21 km2 were selected. The plots are located in the Balta district of Odessa region on the southern spurs of the Podolska upland.
Results. It is established that freely distributed global digital elevation models SRTM and AW3D30 in the conditions of flat terrain do not always allow to adequately display the structure of slope runoff and, accordingly, to correctly perform calculations of soil erosion losses. The maximum deviation of the average soil erosion losses calculated for the test plots using global DEMs from the soil losses calculated using the reference DEM for SRTM30 and AW3D30 was 27%, for SRTM90 – almost 70%. The distribution of soil losses over the area of test plots obtained using different global DEMs differs even more.
When using DEM based on topographic maps, reducing the scale of the original maps from 1: 10000 to 1: 25000 leads to a decrease in the average value of soil erosion losses by about 20% due mainly to reducing the magnitude and area of distribution of maximum soil losses, and on slopes of complex shape also due to changes in the area of accumulation zones. The degree of spatial generalization of the initial data significantly affects the results of the assessment of soil erosion losses both in relation to the average values and their distribution over the area. For small areas, the use of raster cells larger than 50 m is impractical.
Scientific novelty and practical significance. It has been shown for the first time that in the conditions of flat terrain at the local level of spatial coverage, the freely distributed global DEM SRTM and AW3D30 are not always hydrologically correct. The reasons and conditions of violation of this correctness are specified. It has been established that the global DEM AW3D30 has local instrumental errors that may make it impossible to use it. The most realistic values of soil erosion losses are provided by DEM SRTM with a spatial resolution of 1 angular second.
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