Satellite remote sensing for water erosion assessment: A review
Water erosion creates negative impacts on agricultural production, infrastructure, and water quality across the world. Regional-scale water erosion assessment is important, but limited by data availability and quality. Satellite remote sensing can contribute through providing spatial data to such assessments. During the past 30 years many studies have been published that did this to a greater or lesser extent. The objective of this paper is to review methodologies applied for water erosion assessment using satellite remote sensing. First, studies on erosion detection are treated. This comprises the detection of erosion features and eroded areas, as well as the assessment of off-site impacts such as sediment deposition and water quality of inland lakes. Second, the assessment of erosion controlling factors is evaluated. Four types of factors are discussed: topography, soil properties, vegetation cover, and management practices. Then, erosion mapping techniques are described that integrate products derived from satellite remote sensing with additional data sources. These techniques include erosion models and qualitative methods. Finally, validation methods used to assess the accuracy of maps produced with satellite data are discussed. It is concluded that a general lack of validation data is a main concern. Validation is of utmost importance to achieve regional operational monitoring systems, and close collaboration between the remote sensing community and field-based erosion scientists is therefore required.