Pia Benaud

Discipline: Geography

Project Summary

Title: 'Exploring the multiple techniques available for developing an understanding of soil erosion in the UK'

Accelerated soil erosion and the subsequent decline in soil depth has negative environmental, and consequently financial, impacts that have implications across all land cover classifications and scales of land management. Ironically, although attempts to quantify soil erosion nationally have illustrated that soil erosion can occur in the UK, understanding whether or not the UK has a soil erosion problem still remains a question to be answered. Accurately quantifying rates of soil erosion requires capturing both the volumetric nature of the visible, fluvial pathways and the subtle nature of the less-visible, diffuse pathways, across varying spatial and temporal scales. Accordingly, as we move towards a national-scale understanding of soil erosion in the UK, my PhD research sought to explore some of the multiple techniques available for developing an understanding of soil erosion in the UK.

My research first explored the information content of existing UK-based soil erosion studies, ascertaining the extent to which these existing data and methodological approaches can be used to develop an empirically derived understanding of soil erosion in the UK. The second research chapter then assessed which of two proximal sensing technologies, Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Structure-from-Motion Multi-view Stereo (SfM-MVS), was best suited to a cost-effective, replicable and robust assessment of soil erosion within a laboratory environment. The final research chapter built on these findings, using both Rare Earth Oxide tracers and SfM-MVS to elucidate retrospective information about sediment sources under changing soil erosion conditions.

This work is funded by and situated within the Defra-funded research project: SP1311 - Piloting a cost-effective framework for monitoring soil erosion in England and Wales.

Supervisory Team

Professor Richard Brazier, Professor Tim Quine and Dr. Karen Anderson

Wider Research Interests

Soil Erosion - Land Degradation - Catchment Management - Natural Flood Management - Structure-from-Motion MVS

Authored Publications/Reports

Grand-Clement, E., Luscombe, D.J., Anderson, K., Gatis, N., Benaud, P. and Brazier, R.E. (15th September 2014) Antecedent conditions control carbon loss and downstream water quality from shallow, damaged peatlands, Science of The Total Environment, 493, 961-973

Luscombe, D.J., Anderson, K.A., Grand-Clement, E., Gatis, N., Ashe, J., Benaud, P., Smith, D. M. and Brazier, R.E. (2016) How does drainage alter the hydrology of shallow degraded peatlands across multiple spatial scales? , Journal of Hydrology, 541, 1329–1339

Glendell, M., McShane, G., Farrow, L., James, M.R., Quinton, J., Anderson, K., Evans, M., Benaud, P., Rawlins, B., Morgan, D., Jones, L., Kirkham, M., DeBell, L., Quine, T.A., Lark, M., Rickson, J. and Brazier, R.E. (2017) Testing the utility of structure from motion photogrammetry reconstructions using small unmanned aerial vehicles and ground photography to estimate the extent of upland soil erosion, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms , DOI: 10.1002/esp.4142