Seasonality of soil erosion under mediterranean conditions at the Alqueva Dam watershed

Environ Manage. 2014 Jul;54(1):67-83. doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0281-3. Epub 2014 May 3.


The Alqueva reservoir created the largest artificial lake of Western Europe in 2010. Since then, the region has faced challenges due to land-use changes that may increase the risk of erosion and shorten the lifetime of the reservoir, increasing the need to promote land management sustainability. This paper investigates the aspect of seasonality of soil erosion using a comprehensive methodology that integrates the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) approach, geographic information systems, geostatistics, and remote-sensing. An experimental agro-silvo pastoral area (typical land-use) was used for the RUSLE factors update. The study confirmed the effect of seasonality on soil erosion rates under Mediterranean conditions. The highest rainfall erosivity values occurred during the autumn season (433.6 MJ mm ha(-1) h(-1)), when vegetation cover is reduced after the long dry season. As a result, the autumn season showed the highest predicted erosion (9.9 t ha(-1)), contributing 65 % of the total annual erosion. The predicted soil erosion for winter was low (1.1 t ha(-1)) despite the high rainfall erosivity during that season (196.6 MJ mm ha(-1) h(-1)). The predicted annual soil loss was 15.1 t ha(-1), and the sediment amount delivery was 4,314 × 10(3) kg. Knowledge of seasonal variation would be essential to outline sustainable land management practices. This model will be integrated with World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies methods to support decision-making in that watershed, and it will involve collaboration with both local people and governmental institutions.

MeSH terms

  • Climate
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Portugal
  • Rain
  • Seasons*
  • Soil*
  • Water Movements


  • Soil