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Vulnerability assessment of the global water erosion tendency: Vegetation greening can partly offset increasing rainfall stress

Liu, Yanxu, Fu, Bojie, Liu, Yue, Zhao, Wenwu, Wang, Shuai
Land degradation & development 2019 v.30 no.9 pp. 1061-1069
Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, basins, climate change, rain, risk assessment, vegetation cover, water erosion, South East Asia
Global water erosion is a grave threat to the sustainability of agriculture. Regional climate change may aggravate the threat of erosion, whereas global vegetation greening (an increasing trend in vegetation cover) may act as a mitigation to the threat. On the basis of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, we assessed the vulnerability of the global water erosion during 1982–2015. A contribution index was built to describe the influences of rainfall erosivity and cover management on global water erosion vulnerability changes during 1982–2015. The research objective was to explore the spatial pattern of global water erosion vulnerability change in recent decades and to identify the factor that has contributed most to the vulnerability change, and three main results were obtained. (a) The global water erosion vulnerability increased over 51% of the surface during 1982–2015, and the surface with significant decreasing trends only accounted for 12% of the middle and highly sensitive areas. (b) Rainfall erosivity contributed more than cover management for absolute value except in the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia, whereas the contribution of cover management was increasing. (c) Vegetation greening can partly offset the stress caused by climate change. The global water erosion vulnerability decreased more than increased in sensitive area. Consequently, enhancing the vegetation growth in the highly sensitive water erosion region could reduce the erosion threat at large scale.