GCTE Focus 3
Soil Erosion Network

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Activity 3.3 and other Soils Components]

Introduction and Rationale

Soil erosion is a very widespread phenomenon, and is usually irreversible. Once the nutrient-rich surface soil has been lost, the ability to sustain plant growth is severely reduced, and increased runoff from the more  impermeable subsoil results in a decrease in plant-available water.  Furthermore, erosion brings various associated "off-site" problems, including reduced water quality from increased sediment loads and poorer air quality due to dust.

The severity, frequency and extent of erosion will be altered by changes in rainfall amount and intensity, and by changes in wind. Global change will thus amplify many current problems of soil erosion, and as certain soil thresholds are exceeded, potentially new and different problems could arise. It is therefore crucial to understand the potential impacts of global change on soils to allow the developments in  predictive capability necessary to improve their management in the future. The GCTE Soil Erosion Network is dedicated to this goal, and forms a key component of GCTE's soil research.



To design and undertake experimental and monitoring programmes to provide a predictive understanding of the impacts of changes in climate and land-use on soil erosion.

To refine and adapt current erosion models for use in global change studies from plot to regional scales. 


Erosion processes are both varied and complex, and several modelling approaches have been developed for a range of temporal and spatial scales, for erosion by both water and wind. To identify which approaches are most robust for global change studies, models need to be compared using datasets from a wide range of environments. This will best be done in a systematic way, using internationally agreed protocols for data storage and exchange. Particular questions are: 
      (i) Which erosion models are most robust for global change studies? and 
      (ii) Which experimental and monitoring data sets will best help in model development?

Experimental studies test a clearly defined hypothesis whilst monitoring studies involve the measurement of baseline variables (e.g. rainfall and wind intensity, soil moisture, surface roughness, soil erosion rates, etc.) over several years but need not involve the testing of a clear initial hypothesis. Both experimental and monitoring data are however essential to calibrate, initialise, validate and improve soil erosion models.

The Network is coordinated by the GCTE Soil Erosion Network Working Group, Dr Christian Valentin (chair), Professor Dr Jean Poesen, Professor Mike Kirkby, Professor Peter Gregory, Dr Mark Nearing, Dr John Boardman, Dr Ted Zobeck and John Ingram, assisted by the Focus 3 Office.


Events and Output

1997 Publication of Report 6 Soils Erosion Network Model and Experimental Metadata
1999 Launch of the European COST Action 623 "Soil Erosion and Global Change"
1999 Gully Erosion Workshop, Rio, Brazil
1999 Joint Workshop at GCTE Focus 3 Conference, Reading, UK

ICAR5/GCTE-SEN Wind Erosion and Aeolian Processes Conference

Joint meeting of the Fifth International Conference on Aeolian Research and the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems-Soil Erosion Network (Wind) at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA.

2003 Soil Erosion under Climate Change: Rates, Implications, and Feedbacks, Tucson, Arizona, USA, November 17-19, 2003

The theme of this GCTE-SEN meeting is climate change and soil erosion. This includes considerations of rates, processes, impacts, and feedbacks within the context of an interdependent hydrologic system. Both the impacts of climate change on erosion and its feedback to the climate may be addressed, and both wind- and water-induced erosion will be considered. All scientific issues related to the topic are encouraged.

The program will include two days of meetings and a day touring the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Tombstone, AZ, USA.

For further information contact Dr Mark Nearing


Collaboration with other Networks, Activities and Programmes

The Soil Erosion Network is working in collaboration with the European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST) Action 623, Soil Erosion and Global Change.

[COST] [COST623]


Network Membership and Meta Data

[Full List]

42 Members from 20 Countries

14 Models from 6 Countries

19 Experimental sets from 14 Countries

18 Monitoring sets from 10 Countries


For further information, please contact:

Dr Christian Valentin
IRD-Ambassade de France
BP 06 IRD Vientiane
Tel: +856 20 50 26 80
FAX: +856 21 41 29 93


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