Where does gully erosion occur

Gully erosion in the Skagafjörður (North Iceland) in the period 1993 - 2016

Reiter, Isabelle (2018) Gully erosion in the Skagafjörður (North Iceland) in the period 1993 - 2016.
Master thesis, University of Vienna. Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy
Supervisor: Mergili, Martin

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Abstract in English

Soil erosion is a big problem for every country, especially for an island like Iceland. The soil cannot be restored again once lost, which leads to problems with farming and living because the space on an island is limited. Gully erosion is a special form of soil erosion and depends on different factors. Such as, the type of soil and if the soil is covered with vegetation, on the amount and type of precipitation, the inclination of the slope and how the area is used by humans. The Skagafjörður is a rural area which has been intensely farmed for a long time. (URL-E and DECAULNE et al. 2016: 1308) As a result of this long and intensive farming, the fjord area is highly affected by soil erosion. (CATLIN 2016: 17-18) Erosion gullies occur on the mountain areas which are used as pastures for sheep and horses by the local farmers. (STEINBERG et al. 2016: 391) The large amount of livestock sets the basis for gully erosion on the mountain areas, as a large amount of hooves on a sparsely vegetated ground damages the soil. (SCHUTZBACH 1985: 193) Therefore, there had to be investigated how the area of ​​the Skagafjörður has changed from 1993 to 2016 and which counteractive measures were taken to minimize gully erosion. Digital elevation models and satellite images in combination are a good basis for investigating gully erosion and to capture how the area has changed. In combination with statistical analytics patterns of gully erosion could be captured. Different information about geology, soil, climate, vegetation, land use and economy are essential to capture the different factors which support gully erosional processes. The erosion gullies of the Skagafjörður are formed through large amounts of melting water, which can easily erode the unvegetated soil in spring. (GUÐMUNDSSON 2007: 325) If the gully areas are used as pastures, the soil is highly affected by gully erosion. To prevent and minimize the soil against erosional effects, there are different projects in Iceland. Such as, land improvement projects, guidelines for the farmers regarding sustainable land use, regulating the number of grazing livestock, revegetation of sparsely vegetated land like the highland and mountain areas and afforestation projects. (THE MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IN ICELAND 2002: 47) Therefore, it is also an essential step in minimizing and avoiding soil erosion, that the population is involved in these different projects and knows the risks of soil erosion and what this means for a country . Additionally it is also important to educate the tourists on soil erosion and how to mitigate the risk of contributing to it. (ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT 2001: 22)

Keywords in English

geomorphology soil erosion GIS Iceland

Abstract in German

Soil erosion is a major problem for any country, especially islands. Once the soil is eroded, it cannot be restored, which can become a major problem for agriculture and human settlements. The loss of soil on islands is particularly severe, as there is limited space to find new areas for agriculture or settlements. Gully erosion is a special form of soil erosion and is dependent on various factors. Thus, gully erosion depends on the type of soil and how the soil is covered with vegetation, the amount and type of precipitation, the slope of the slope and how an area is used and influenced by humans. Skagafjörður is a rural area that has been farming intensively for a long time. (URL-E and DECAULNE et al. 2016: 1308) Due to this long and intensive agricultural use, this area is strongly influenced by soil erosion. (CATLIN 2016: 17-18) Gully erosion occurs in Skagafjörður on the mountain slopes, which are used by local farmers as grazing land for their sheep and horses. (STEINBERG et al. 2016: 391) The large proportion of grazing cattle in these areas lays the foundation for gully erosion due to the high number of hooves on the sparsely vegetated subsoil. (SCHUTZBACH 1985: 193) Thus it is examined how the area of ​​Skagafjörður changed from 1993 to 2016 and which countermeasures were taken to slow down gully erosion. Digital terrain models and satellite images in combination form a good basis to investigate gully erosion and to determine how this area has changed. In combination with statistical analyzes, patterns regarding the spread of gully erosion can be determined. Various information about geology, soil, climate, vegetation, land use and economy are important additional information to record the various factors that support the process of gully erosion. The erosion gullies of Skagafjörður were formed by large amounts of meltwater, which can easily erode the bare ground in spring. (GUÐMUNDSSON 2007: 325) If these gully areas are used as grazing land, the soil is highly prone to gully erosion. There are various projects in Iceland to protect the soil against the process of erosion and to minimize existing erosion processes. These projects deal with projects to improve land, guidelines for farmers for sustainable land use, regulation of the number of grazing cattle, recultivation of sparsely vegetated land such as the highlands and mountain slopes and reforestation projects. (THE MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IN ICELAND 2002: 47) Another important step to reduce and avoid soil erosion is to involve the population in these projects and to make them aware of the risks soil erosion brings and what this means for a country means. In addition to the Icelandic population, it is important to make tourists aware of the risks of soil erosion and how the emergence of new forms of erosion can be counteracted. (ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT 2001: 22)

Keywords in German

Geomorphology / Soil / Erosion GIS Iceland

Document Type: University thesis (master thesis)
Author:Reiter, Isabelle
Title:Gully erosion in the Skagafjörður (North Iceland) in the period 1993 - 2016
Circumference information:vii, 92 pages: illustrations, diagrams, maps
Institution:University of Vienna
Faculty:Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy
Degree title or
University course (ULG):
Master's degree in geography
Publication year:2018
Language:eng ... English
Supervisor:Mergili, Martin
Assessor:Mergili, Martin
Classification:74 Geography, spatial planning, town planning> 74.00 Geography, anthropogeography: general
74 Geography, spatial planning, town planning> 74.48 Geographic information systems
AC number:AC15064838
Document ID:52227
(The PDF layout is identical to the print version of the university thesis.)

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