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A “simple” geomatics-based approach for assessing water erosion hazard at montane areas

Abstract

Soil erosion by water is recognised as a worldwide land degradation issue, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. The aim of this study is to apply the powerful capabilities of advanced remote sensing and geographic information system techniques to identify the areas at risk to water erosion. This study presents the assessment of water erosion in mountainous areas (eastern Aures, Algeria) based on three main factors: the friability of the bedrock, degree of slope and density of vegetation cover. Alsat1 image was used to produce land use and vegetation (NDVI) maps. Digital elevation model was used in constructing the slope gradient map. The erosion risk map was obtained by the combination of indices assigned to thematic layers following multicriteria decision rules. Water erosion was generally not concerning in the eastern Aures (slight risk = 33 %, moderate risk = 44 % of the area). This simple–qualitative approach gave good results for assessing soil erosion equally to quantitative methods since 89.55 % of field verifications were accurate. The non-alarming state and the low rate of severe and extremely severe risk to erosion are due to (1) the low steep slopes, (2) the good quality of vegetation (forests with thick undergrowth), and which are occurring on (3) resistant materials of the substratum, and (4) the low human pressure. Results of this study, which may be conducted with reasonable costs and accuracy over large areas, are of significant help in prioritising areas in decision making and sustainable planning.

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Correspondence to Haroun Chenchouni.

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Arar, A., Chenchouni, H. A “simple” geomatics-based approach for assessing water erosion hazard at montane areas. Arab J Geosci 7, 1–12 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-012-0782-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-012-0782-4

Keywords

  • Algeria
  • GIS
  • Remote sensing
  • Soil runoff
  • Water erosion
  • Land degradation
  • Mountain landscape