Remote Sensing of Geomorphology - Chapter 9: Remote sensing for the analysis of anthropogenic geomorphology: Potential responses to sediment dynamics in the agricultural landscapes

Elsevier, Paolo Tarolli, Giulia Sofia, Chapter 9 - Remote sensing for the analysis of anthropogenic geomorphology: Potential responses to sediment dynamics in the agricultural landscapes, Editor(s): Paolo Tarolli, Simon M. Mudd, Developments in Earth Surface Processes, Elsevier, Volume 23, 2020, Pages 255-269, ISSN 0928-2025, ISBN 9780444641779,
Paolo Tarolli, Giulia Sofia

Agricultural modern land transformations are usually undertaken with minimal landscape planning, and soil conservation practices are largely ignored during the construction phase. As a consequence, changes to terrain morphology induce dramatic geomorphological effects that can endure well beyond any single farming cycle and over many human generations. Thus, agricultural activities that may not be obvious to the observers of contemporary landscapes can continue to influence surface processes and landforms strongly; these effects are even more critical in the current situation of climate change and rainfall event intensification. An understanding and successful prediction of pathways of runoff and associated soil erosion due to terracing are, therefore, of considerable societal relevance. Such predictions would allow improvements to the protection of the environment by the reduction of impacts of the agricultural activities or by a correct restoration of abandoned agricultural land (especially terraces). Using two examples from northern Spain and northern Italy, this chapter shows how new remote sensing technologies (i.e., airborne lidar), available to the public, can provide a better understanding of the interaction between anthropogenic elements, potential erosion, and the associated sediment delivery. During the planning and management phase, the farmers and authorities in charge of monitoring both the subsidy process and land management should consider an approach similar to that presented in this research, together with a holistic view of the processes in the areas, specifically related to climate and soil. It is currently possible to forecast how agricultural practices could affect sediment fluxes in the future, and thus to have a better understanding of the human-landscape interactions. This type of integrated analysis is a cost-effective strategy for the management, restoration, or development of terraced lands, especially in areas with high economic value for agricultural productions and tourism.