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Sensitivity Assessment of Spatial Resolution Difference in DEM for Soil Erosion Estimation Based on UAV Observations: An Experiment on Agriculture Terraces in the Middle Hill of Nepal

1
Central Department of Geography, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur 44618, Nepal
2
Branch of Sustainable Mountain Development, Kathmandu Center for Research and Education, Chinese Academy of Sciences-Tribhuvan University, Chengdu 610041, China
3
Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2021, 10(1), 28; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijgi10010028
Received: 3 December 2020 / Revised: 6 January 2021 / Accepted: 11 January 2021 / Published: 13 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geomorphometry and Terrain Analysis)
Soil erosion in the agricultural area of a hill slope is a fundamental issue for crop productivity and environmental sustainability. Building terrace is a very popular way to control soil erosion, and accurate assessment of the soil erosion rate is important for sustainable agriculture and environmental management. Currently, many soil erosion estimations are mainly based on the freely available medium or coarse resolution digital elevation model (DEM) data that neglect micro topographic modification of the agriculture terraces. The development of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology enables the development of high-resolution (centimeter level) DEM to present accurate topographic features. To demonstrate the sensitivity of soil erosion estimates to DEM resolution at this high-resolution level, this study tries to evaluate soil erosion estimation in the Middle Hill agriculture terraces in Nepal based on UAV derived high-resolution (5 × 5 cm) DEM data and make a comparative study for the estimates by using the DEM data aggregated into different spatial resolutions (5 × 5 cm to 10 × 10 m). Firstly, slope gradient, slope length, and topographic factors were calculated at different resolutions. Then, the revised universal soil loss estimation (RUSLE) model was applied to estimate soil erosion rates with the derived LS factor at different resolutions. The results indicated that there was higher change rate in slope gradient, slope length, LS factor, and soil erosion rate when using DEM data with resolution from 5 × 5 cm to 2 × 2 m than using coarser DEM data. A power trend line was effectively used to present the relationship between soil erosion rate and DEM resolution. The findings indicated that soil erosion estimates are highly sensitive to DEM resolution (from 5 × 5 cm to 2 × 2 m), and the changes become relatively stable from 2 × 2 m. The use of DEM data with pixel size larger than 2 × 2 m cannot detect the micro topography. With the insights about the influencing mechanism of DEM resolution on soil erosion estimates, this study provides important suggestions for appropriate DEM data selection that should be investigated first for accurate soil erosion estimation. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital elevation model; soil erosion; topographic factors; RUSLE; unmanned aerial vehicle digital elevation model; soil erosion; topographic factors; RUSLE; unmanned aerial vehicle
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chidi, C.L.; Zhao, W.; Chaudhary, S.; Xiong, D.; Wu, Y. Sensitivity Assessment of Spatial Resolution Difference in DEM for Soil Erosion Estimation Based on UAV Observations: An Experiment on Agriculture Terraces in the Middle Hill of Nepal. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2021, 10, 28. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijgi10010028

AMA Style

Chidi CL, Zhao W, Chaudhary S, Xiong D, Wu Y. Sensitivity Assessment of Spatial Resolution Difference in DEM for Soil Erosion Estimation Based on UAV Observations: An Experiment on Agriculture Terraces in the Middle Hill of Nepal. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2021; 10(1):28. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijgi10010028

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chidi, Chhabi L., Wei Zhao, Suresh Chaudhary, Donghong Xiong, and Yanhong Wu. 2021. "Sensitivity Assessment of Spatial Resolution Difference in DEM for Soil Erosion Estimation Based on UAV Observations: An Experiment on Agriculture Terraces in the Middle Hill of Nepal" ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 10, no. 1: 28. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijgi10010028

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