Natural Hazards

, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 277–289 | Cite as

Risk assessment of soil erosion by application of remote sensing and GIS in Yanshan Reservoir catchment, China

  • Yanfang Hu
  • Guohang TianEmail author
  • Audrey L. MayerEmail author
  • Ruizhen He
Original Paper


Soil erosion is considered to be a serious problem for environmental sustainability. Healthy and stable soils are crucial for human well-being, providing important ecosystem functions and services. There is a need for a simple and practical approach which estimates and maps soil erosion risk that uses available information as input data to facilitate water and soil conservation. In this work, we developed a predictive approach to estimating the soil erosion risk of the Yanshan Reservoir catchment, which combines remote sensing information, geographic information system spatial analysis technology and a soil erosion risk assessment model. Three dominating factors affecting soil erosion were considered: vegetation coverage, topographic slope and land use. The soil erosion risk was divided into six levels: slight, light, moderate, intense, severe and extremely severe. The slight and light erosion risk accounted for about 83 % of the watershed and was prominent in cultivated land areas, while areas with relatively higher erosion risk were on steep slopes. This approach pointed to inappropriate land use and development as a source of increased risk of soil erosion of the Yanshan Reservoir catchment. Compared with field survey data, the soil erosion modeling approach was shown to have a high accuracy. Therefore, this model could be used to estimate and map soil erosion intensity and distribution at the catchment scale, and could provide useful information for managers and planners to make land management and conservation decisions.


Soil erosion Risk assessment VSCI model Remote sensing GIS 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31470029) and the Innovation Scientists and Technicians Troop Construction Projects of Zhengzhou City (No. 096SYJH32108). We thank two anonymous reviewers for comments which greatly improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of ForestryHenan Agricultural UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Forest Resources and Environmental ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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