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Does soil compaction increase floods? A review

Alaoui, Abdallah, Rogger, Magdalena, Peth, Stephan, Blöschl, Günter
Journal of hydrology 2018 v.557 pp. 631-642
field experimentation, floods, grazing, land degradation, models, rain, remote sensing, runoff, soil, soil compaction, soil degradation, texture, topographic slope, watersheds, Europe
Europe has experienced a series of major floods in the past years which suggests that flood magnitudes may have increased. Land degradation due to soil compaction from crop farming or grazing intensification is one of the potential drivers of this increase. A literature review suggests that most of the experimental evidence was generated at plot and hillslope scales. At larger scales, most studies are based on models. There are three ways in which soil compaction affects floods at the catchment scale: (i) through an increase in the area affected by soil compaction; (ii) by exacerbating the effects of changes in rainfall, especially for highly degraded soils; and (iii) when soil compaction coincides with soils characterized by a fine texture and a low infiltration capacity. We suggest that future research should focus on better synthesising past research on soil compaction and runoff, tailored field experiments to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the coupled mechanical and hydraulic processes, new mapping methods of soil compaction that combine mechanical and remote sensing approaches, and an effort to bridge all disciplines relevant to soil compaction effects on floods.