Tackling the source of runoff and water erosion: How resilient are our managed headwaters to climate change?

01 October 2015 → 30 September 2019
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Evolutionary biology
    • General biology
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Social medical sciences
climate change source of runoff water erosion
Project description

Recent successes in headwater rehabilitation around the world indicate that gully erosion (i.e. the incision of soils due to the erosive action of concentrated overland flow) can be tackled. The longterm impact of land management efforts to counter the effects of climate change, however, remains uncertain. To gain insights into the landscape’s resilience to external climatic forcing, this research envisages to compile datasets on gully erosion and their controlling factors for contrasting agricultural environments around world, having different types of land management. Preselected study areas are located in Ethiopia, France and the United States of America. Data will be obtained from preceding studies and from original fieldwork campaigns. For the latter, innovative methodologies will be used that allow to gather data at very high spatio-temporal scales. Once interrelations between gully erosion dynamics and their controls are thoroughly understood, the data will be used to predict the sensitivity of the catchments to environmental change. This will be done by using the newly developed environmental modelling platform CLiDE, and will allow to predict gully development up to 2100. With this research, we want to improve the poor understanding of the hydrogeomorphic behaviour of gully catchments in a changing environment, and predict the success of current land management strategies. This will allow to formulate mitigation measures which will be discussed with stakeholders.