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Keywords:

  • global change;
  • soil erosion;
  • global warming;
  • land use change;
  • RUSLE

Abstract

A GIS-based RUSLE model is employed to study the global soil erosion potential for viewing the present situation, analysing changes over the past century, and projecting future trends with reference to global changes in land use and climate. Scenarios considered in the study include historical, present and future conditions of cropland and climate. This research gives the first overview of the global situation of soil erosion potential considering the previous century as well as the present and future. Present soil erosion potential is estimated to be about 0·38 mm year−1 for the globe, with Southeast Asia found to be the most seriously affected region in the world. It is estimated that nearly 60% of present soil erosions are induced by human activity. With development of cropland in the last century, soil erosion potential is estimated to have increased by about 17%. Global warming might significantly increase the potential for soil erosion, and the regions with the same increasing trend of precipitation and population might face much more serious problems related to soil erosion in the future. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.