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  • Product Sheet: Erosion Potential

Erosion Potential Mapping


Erosion potential, Nile Basin 2012 (Source: GeoVille/ESA)



Component products

Integrated Product


  • Land cover
  • Land cover change
  • Elevation
  • Slope
  • Soil type
  • Rainfall estimates


  • Environmental monitoring – Continuous monitoring of changes throughout the lifecycle
  • Environmental monitoring – Continuous monitoring of changes throughout the lifecycle

Geo-information requirements

  • Detailed land cover information
  • Detailed land use information


This product provides information on soil erosion potential, based on indicators incorporating several types of geodata. This information is needed to identify areas with high erosion potential for the planning and prioritizing of watershed restoration activities.

To calculate the erosion potential a processing chain is used which utilizes an international standard method for erosion measurement, e.g. the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), in a Geo-Information environment.  Consequently, EO data can be used to support the erosion potential assessment.

The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) predicts the long term average annual rate of erosion on a slope based on rainfall pattern, soil type, topography, crop system and management practices. RUSLE only predicts the amount of soil loss that results from sheet or rill erosion on a single slope and does not account for additional soil losses that might occur from gully, wind or tillage erosion. The RUSLE erosion model was created for use in selected cropping and management systems, but is also applicable to non-agricultural conditions such as construction sites.

The service is mainly based on land cover (land cover change) characterisation supported by information on elevation and slope as well as soil type information and rainfall estimates.

This product delivers PDF maps or digital raster files that show:

  • Areas of erosion potential colored from green (low erosion potential) to red (high erosion potential)

Known restrictions / limitations

This product is normally derived from optical satellite data. If the mapping area is situated in the inner tropics persistent cloud coverage can complicate cloud-free data acquisitions. In these situations radar images can be used as a substitute.

When generating DEMs from stereo pairs, good quality imagery needs to be available with two or more images showing the same area from different directions. This can be a time consuming process. Lower resolution (2 – 30 m, e.g. WorldDEM or SRTM) DEM data is available ‘off the shelf’.

Lifecycle stage and demand











Development, Production & Decommissioning:

  • Information on areas with high erosion potential for the planning and prioritizing of watershed restoration activities.
  • Information on damages to ecosystems and their impacts is essential within the context of environmental certificates, climate change, etc.

Geographic coverage and demand

Demand and coverage is global.


OTM:032 Detecting ecosystem damages
OTM:033 Mapping of environmental degradation (change)


HC:5307 Assess coastal environment for infrastructure planning

HC:5401 Monitor pipeline corridor hazards


Input data sources

Optical: VHR1, VHR2, HR1, HR2, MR1, MR2

Radar: VHR1, VHR2, HR1, HR2, MR1, MR2

Supporting data:

  • Existing land cover and in-situ information for calibration and validation

Spatial resolution and coverage

Spatial resolution: 10 m - 300 m pixel size

The resolution depends on the input data, which can differ significantly. The resulting product will be a merge of the input data resolution.

Minimum Mapping Unit (MMU)

n/a (the product is directly based on the input data; the smallest unit is one pixel)

Accuracy / constraints

Thematic accuracy: 80-90%

Spatial accuracy: Target is one pixel, but depends on reference data

Accuracy assessment approach & quality control measures

Stratified random points sampling approach utilizing VHR reference or other geospatial in-situ data. Statistical confusion matrix with user’s and producer’s accuracy as well as kappa statistics for erosion potential.

Frequency / timeliness

Observation frequency: The frequency is constrained by satellite revisit and acquisition timeframes, but also processing requirements. Depending on the requirements of the customer the best suitable satellite sensor has to be chosen considering spatial / spectral resolution as well as revisit frequency and timeliness.

Timeliness of deliverable: As a fixed model using a defined equation, the product can be generated within a day, depending on the size of the area of interest.


Freely available or commercially acquired depending on the sensor selected.

Delivery / output format

Data type:

  • Raster formats

File format:

  • Geotiff (standard - any other OGC standard file formats)

Download product sheet.


Lead Author:GeoVille
Peer Reviewer:Hatfield Consultants


Maria Lemper; Jan Militzer

Document Title:

Erosion Potential

# of Pages:



Internal – Project consortium and science partners


External – ESA



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