The time evolution of a landscape topography through erosional and depositional mechanisms is modified by both human and natural disturbances. This is particularly evident in the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory, where decades of land-use resulted in a distinct topography with gullies, interfluves, hillslopes and significantly eroded areas. Understanding the role of different geomorphological processes that led to these conditions is crucial to reconstruct sediment and soil carbon fluxes, predict critical conditions of landscape degradation, and implement strategies of land recovery. To model these dynamics, an analytical theory of the drainage area (which represents a surrogate for water surface runoff responsible for fluvial incision) is used to evolve ridge and valley lines. Furthermore, the coupled dynamics of surface water runoff and landscape evolution is analyzed theoretically and numerically to detect thresholds leading to either stable landscape configurations or critical conditions of land erosion. Observed erosional cycles due to vegetation disturbances are explored and used to predict future evolutions under various levels of anthropogenic disturbance.
Bonetti, S.; Porporato, A. M. (2017): Forward and backward evolution of the Calhoun CZO: the effect of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. American Geophysical Union 2017 Fall Meeting, 11-15 Dec. 2017, New Orleans, LA.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.