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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-68
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Review article
23 Feb 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
A review of the (Revised) Universal Soil Loss Equation (R/USLE): with a view to increasing its global applicability and improving soil loss estimates
Rubianca Benavidez, Bethanna Jackson, Deborah Maxwell, and Kevin Norton School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 6012, New Zealand
Abstract. Soil erosion is a major problem around the world because of its effects on soil productivity, nutrient loss, siltation in water bodies, and degradation of water quality. By understanding the driving forces behind soil erosion, we can more easily identify erosion-prone areas within a landscape and use land management and other strategies to effectively manage the problem. Soil erosion models have been used to assist in this task. One of the most commonly used soil erosion models is the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and its family of models: the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation version 2 (RUSLE2), and the Modified Universal Soil Loss Equation (MUSLE). This paper reviewed the different components of USLE and RUSLE etc., and analysed how different studies around the world have adapted the equations to local conditions. We compiled these studies and equations to serve as a reference for other researchers working with R/USLE and related approaches. We investigate some of the limitations of R/USLE, such as issues in data-sparse regions, its inability to account for soil loss from gully erosion or mass wasting events, and that it does not predict sediment pathways from hillslopes to water bodies. These limitations point to several future directions for R/USLE studies: incorporating soil loss from other types of soil erosion, estimating soil loss at sub-annual temporal scales, and using consistent units for future literature. These recommendations help to improve the applicability of the R/USLE in a range of geoclimatic regions with varying data availability, and at finer spatial and temporal scales for scenario analysis.
Citation: Benavidez, R., Jackson, B., Maxwell, D., and Norton, K.: A review of the (Revised) Universal Soil Loss Equation (R/USLE): with a view to increasing its global applicability and improving soil loss estimates, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-68, in review, 2018.
Rubianca Benavidez et al.
Rubianca Benavidez et al.
Rubianca Benavidez et al.

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Short summary
Soil erosion is a global problem and models identify vulnerable areas for management. One such model is the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. We review its different components and compile studies and equations that modified it for local conditions. The limitations of RUSLE include its data requirements and exclusion of gullying and landslides. Future directions include accounting for these erosion types. This paper is as a reference for others working with RUSLE and related approaches.
Soil erosion is a global problem and models identify vulnerable areas for management. One such...
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