Soil Erosion by Wind and Land-Use Decisions by Farmers Explored with Agent Based Modelling

Theme: Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor:

Andreas Baas

Department of Geography, KCL

Andreas Baas's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

James Millington

Department of Geography, KCL

James Millington's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Soil erosion by wind is well understood, and we have computer models for predicting soil loss as a function of agricultural practices and land-use.

In order to understand actual soil erosion dynamics and long-term potential on agricultural lands, most notably under climate change, we need to also involve the crucial human component: the farmer or land-user who makes management decisions based on economic incentives and cultural norms.

This project will develop an Agent-Based Model (ABM) that simulates the feedbacks between soil erosion and decisions on land management practices. This may include, for example, how worsening agricultural conditions in the wrong economic climate may induce land-use decisions leading to irreversible soil erosion and desertification.

A range of fundamental questions will be explored in the context of tipping points, extreme events, historic contingency, stability and chaos, and the model will explore scenarios for East Anglia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Policy Impact of Research:

The project may have direct practical application in mitigating future risks of aeolian soil erosion in East Anglia (UK) and sub-Saharan Africa, by informing land-use decisions and agricultural practices.

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