• soil erosion modeling;
  • land use change;
  • USPED model;
  • remote sensing;
  • GIS


The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of rapidly changing land use on erosion and sedimentation in a mixed land use watershed in the Ozark Highlands of the USA. The research combines a geographic information system-based soil erosion modeling approach with land use change detection to quantify the influence of changing land use on erosion risk. Five land use/land cover maps were generated or acquired for a 20-year period (1986 through 2006) at approximately 5-year intervals to assess land use change and to predict a projected (2030) land use scenario for the West Fork White River watershed in Northwest Arkansas. The Unit Stream Power based Erosion/Deposition model was applied to the observed and predicted land use to assess the impact on erosion. Total erosion from urban areas was predicted to increase by a factor of six between 1986 and 2030 based on the projected 2030 land use. Results support previous reports of increased urbanization leading to increased soil erosion risk. This study highlights the interaction of changes in land use with soil erosion potential. Soil erosion risk on a landscape can be quantified by incorporating commonly available biophysical data with geographic information system and remote sensing, which could serve as a land/watershed management tool for the rapid assessment of the effects of environmental change on erosion risk. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.