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Assessment of soil erosion sensitivity and analysis of sensitivity factors in the Tongbai–Dabie mountainous area of China

Zhang, Ronghua, Liu, Xia, Heathman, Gary C., Yao, Xiaoyou, Hu, Xuli, Zhang, Guangcan
Catena 2013 v.101 pp. 92-98
anthropogenic activities, ecosystem engineering, geographic information systems, remote sensing, soil, topography, vegetation, water erosion, water quality, China
Soil erosion reduces crop productivity and creates negative impacts on water quality. Soil erosion by water has become a problem worldwide and as concerns about the environment continue to grow, soil erosion remains a very active area of scientific research. In this study, based on advanced remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies, the influences of precipitation, soil, topography and vegetation on soil erosion sensitivity are evaluated. An index system and the classification standard for soil erosion sensitivity assessment in the Tongbai–Dabie Mountainous area are established with soil erosion sensitivity being evaluated and analyzed in order to provide a scientific basis for controlling soil erosion and for making sound ecological engineering decisions. According to the regional conditions, sensitivity is classified into five levels: insensitive, mild, moderate, high and extreme. The distribution of erosion sensitivity for the region is analyzed and the various impacts are discussed. The results show that the sensitivity of the Tongbai–Dabie Mountainous area to soil erosion is relatively high, with 46.34% of the total area above the moderate level, and 44.30% and 9.36% rated at the mild and insensitive levels, respectively. In regards to the spatial distribution, the sensitivity levels decrease from south to north, with highly sensitive areas found mainly in the south in the areas of Jinzhai, Huoshan, Shangcheng, Yuexi, and Shucheng. The distribution of soil erosion sensitivity levels was very consistent with the intensity of soil erosion. Areas of high sensitivity are found to have severe areas of soil erosion, indicating that regional soil erosion is highly influenced by natural factors, although in some areas it is evident that the impact of human activities has played a significant role in exacerbating the problem. The results of this investigation serve to advance efforts to reduce the impacts soil erosion in the region and prevent further erosion in areas having high erosion sensitivities.