Special Section on Remote Sensing of the Wenchuan Earthquake

Estimating soil erosion changes in the Wenchuan earthquake disaster area using geo-spatial information technology

[+] Author Affiliations
Bing Zhang, Quanjun Jiao, Yanhong Wu, Wenjuan Zhang

Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Floor 14, Kedian Building, No.9 Beiyitiao Road, Zhongguancun, Beijing, 100190 China

J. Appl. Remote Sens. 3(1), 031675 (May 26, 2009). doi:10.1117/1.3153914
History: Received November 1, 2008; Revised May 20, 2009; Accepted May 22, 2009; May 26, 2009; Online May 26, 2009
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Abstract

The secondary disasters induced by the Wenchuan earthquake of May 12, 2008, such as landslides, collapsing rocks, debris flows, floods, etc., have changed the local natural landscape tremendously and caused heavy soil erosion in the earthquake-hit areas. Using thematic mapper images taken before the earthquake and airborne images taken after the earthquake, we extracted information about the destroyed landscape by utilizing remote sensing and geographical information system techniques. Then, taking into account multi-year precipitation, vegetation cover, soil type, land use, and elevation data, we evaluated the soil erosion area and intensity using the revised universal soil loss equation. Results indicate that the soil erosion in earthquake-hit areas was exacerbated, with the severe erosion area increasing by 279.2 km2>, or 1.9% of the total statistical area. Large amounts of soil and debris blocked streams and formed many barrier lakes over an area of more than 3.9 km2>. It was evident from the spatial distribution of soil erosion areas that the intensity of soil erosion accelerated in the stream valley areas, especially in the valleys of the Min River and the Jian River.

© 2009 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Bing Zhang ; Quanjun Jiao ; Yanhong Wu and Wenjuan Zhang
"Estimating soil erosion changes in the Wenchuan earthquake disaster area using geo-spatial information technology", J. Appl. Remote Sens. 3(1), 031675 (May 26, 2009). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.3153914


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