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Towards the reproducibility in soil erosion modeling: a new Pan-European soil erosion map

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posted on 18.02.2014, 06:14 by Claudio Bosco, Daniele de RigoDaniele de Rigo, Olivier Dewitte, Luca Montanarella

This is the authors’ version of the work. It is based on a poster presented at the Wageningen Conference on Applied Soil Science,

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Bosco, C., de Rigo, D., Dewitte, O., Montanarella, L., 2011. Towards the reproducibility in soil erosion modeling: a new Pan-European soil erosion map. Wageningen Conference on Applied Soil Science “Soil Science in a Changing World”, 18 - 22 September 2011, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Author’s version DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.936872  arXiv:1402.3847

Towards the reproducibility in soil erosion modeling:
a new Pan-European soil erosion map

Claudio Bosco ¹, Daniele de Rigo ¹ ² , Olivier Dewitte ¹, Luca Montanarella ¹

¹ European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability,
Via E. Fermi 2749, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
² Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione,
Via Ponzio 34/5, I-20133 Milano, Italy


Soil erosion by water is a widespread phenomenon throughout Europe and has the potentiality, with his on-site and off-site effects, to affect water quality, food security and floods. Despite the implementation of numerous and different models for estimating soil erosion by water in Europe, there is still a lack of harmonization of assessment methodologies.

Often, different approaches result in soil erosion rates significantly different. Even when the same model is applied to the same region the results may differ. This can be due to the way the model is implemented (i.e. with the selection of different algorithms when available) and/or to the use of datasets having different resolution or accuracy. Scientific computation is emerging as one of the central topic of the scientific method, for overcoming these problems there is thus the necessity to develop reproducible computational method where codes and data are available.

The present study illustrates this approach. Using only public available datasets, we applied the Revised Universal Soil loss Equation (RUSLE) to locate the most sensitive areas to soil erosion by water in Europe.

A significant effort was made for selecting the better simplified equations to be used when a strict application of the RUSLE model is not possible. In particular for the computation of the Rainfall Erosivity factor (R) the reproducible research paradigm was applied. The calculation of the R factor was implemented using public datasets and the GNU R language. An easily reproducible validation procedure based on measured precipitation time series was applied using MATLAB language. Designing the computational modelling architecture with the aim to ease as much as possible the future reuse of the model in analysing climate change scenarios is also a challenging goal of the research.


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