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S-WORLD: A GLOBAL SOIL MAP FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING (Published in Land Degradation&Development journal)

The research community increasingly analyses global environmental problems like climate change and desertification with models. These global environmental modelling studies require global, high resolution, spatially exhaustive, and quantitative data describing the soil profile.

This study aimed to develop a pedological approach that takes stock of available legacy and auxiliary data to create a global, 30 arc second soil property database for modelling.

The methodology uses the Harmonized World Soil Database and the ISRIC-WISE 3.1 soil profile database. Auxiliary information at 30 arc second resolution for various landscape properties is used to describe the variation in landscape properties (temperature and precipitation, topography, elevation, land use, and land cover). Complex mapping units of the HWSD were first disaggregated using a digital elevation model and toposequences to generate delineated areas described by a single soil type.

Secondly, ranges of soil properties per soil type were determined using the soil profile data. Then a meta-analysis on a broad literature survey was used to develop a simple model that, based on landscape properties at a particular location, determines the position within these ranges and thus provides an estimation of the local soil properties.

Finally, the model was implemented at the global level to determine the distribution of soil properties. The methodology, denominated S-World (Soils of the world) resulted in readily available, high resolution, global soil property maps that are now available for environmental modelling.