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An Assessment of the global impact of 21st century land use change on soil erosion

Human activity and related land use change are the primary cause of accelerated soil erosion, which has substantial implications for nutrient and carbon cycling, land productivity and in turn, worldwide socio-economic conditions. In a recent published article in Nature Communications, "An assessment of the global impact of 21st century land use change on soil erosion" we present an unprecedentedly high resolution (250 × 250 m) global potential soil erosion mod­el, using a combination of remote sensing, GIS modelling and census data.

We challenge the pre­vious annual soil erosion reference values (published in the literature), as our estimate of 35.9 Pg  yr−1 of soil eroded in 2012, is at least two times lower. Moreover, we model the spatial and temporal effects of land use change between 2001 and 2012 and the potential offset of the global application of conservation practices. Our findings indicate a potential overall increase in global soil erosion driven by cropland expansion.