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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Distributed, high-resolution modelling of critical source areas for erosion and phosphorus losses

Djodjic, Faruk; Villa Solis, Ana


Phosphorus losses from arable land need to be reduced to prevent eutrophication of surrounding waters. Owing to the high spatial variability of P losses, cost-effective countermeasures need to target parts of the catchment that are most susceptible to P losses. Field surveys identified critical source areas for overland flow and erosion amounting to only 0.4-2.6 % of total arable land in four different catchments in southern Sweden. Distributed modelling using high-resolution digital elevation data identified 72-96 % of these observed erosion and overland flow features. The modelling results were also successfully used to predict occurrence of overland flow and rill and gully erosion in a catchment in central Sweden. Such exact high-resolution modelling allows for accurate placement of planned countermeasures. However, current legislative and environmental subsidy programmes need to change their approach from income-loss compensation to rewarding high cost effectiveness of implemented countermeasures.


Erosion; Modelling; Phosphorus; Eutrophication

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2015, Volume: 44, number: 2, pages: S241-S251 Publisher: SPRINGER