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Gully evolution and geomorphic adjustments of badlands to reforestation

Martín-Duque, J. F.
Corona, C.
Lucía, A.
Bodoque, J. M.
Montgomery, D. R.
Published in Scientific Reports. 2017, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 45027
Abstract Badlands and gullied areas are among those geomorphic environments with the highest erosion rates worldwide. Nevertheless, records of their evolution and their relations with anthropogenic land transformation are scarcer. Here we combine historical data with aerial photographs and tree-ring records to reconstruct the evolution of a badland in a Mediterranean environment of Central Spain. Historical sources suggest an anthropogenic origin of this badland landscape, caused by intense quarrying activities during the 18th century. Aerial photographs allowed detection of dramatic geomorphic changes and the evolution of an emerging vegetation cover since the 1960s, due to widespread reforestation. Finally, tree-ring analyses of exposed roots allowed quantification of recent channel incision of the main gully, and sheet erosion processes. Our results suggest that reforestation practices have influenced the initiation of an episode of incision in the main channel in the 1980s, through the hypothesized creation of disequilibrium in water-sediment balance following decoupling of hillslopes from channel processes. These findings imply an asymmetry in the geomorphic response of badlands to erosion such that in the early evolution stages, vegetation removal results in gullying, but that reforestation alone does not necessarily stabilize the landforms and may even promote renewed incision.
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Research group Climatic Change and Climate Impacts
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BALLESTEROS CANOVAS, Juan Antonio et al. Gully evolution and geomorphic adjustments of badlands to reforestation. In: Scientific Reports, 2017, vol. 7, n° 1, p. 45027. doi: 10.1038/srep45027 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:121958

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Deposited on : 2019-08-27

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