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Monitoring Soil Erosion in the Souss Basin, Morocco, with a multiscale Object-based Remote Sensing Approach using UAV and Satellite Data
1 , 2 , 2 , 3 , * 3
1  Department of Geography, Ibn Zohr University Agadir, Morocco
2  Physical Geography, University of Trier, Germany
3  Remote Sensing & GIS Research Group, Department of Physical Geography, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Abstract: This article presents a multiscale approach for detecting and monitoring soil erosion phenomena (i.e. gully erosion) in the agro-industrial area around the city of Taroudannt, Souss basin, Morocco. The study area is characterized as semi-arid with an annual average precipitation of 200 mm. Water scarcity, high population dynamics and changing land use towards huge areas of irrigation farming present numerous threats to sustainability. The agro-industry produces citrus fruit and vegetables in monocropping, mainly for the European market. Badland areas strongly affected by gully erosion border the agricultural areas as well as residential areas. To counteract the significant loss of land, land-levelling measures are attempted to create space for plantations and greenhouses. In order to develop sustainable approaches to limit gully growth the detection and monitoring of gully systems is fundamental. Specific gully sites are monitored with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) taking small-format aerial photographs (SFAP). This enables extremely high-resolution analysis (SFAP resolution: 2-10 cm) of the actual size of the gully channels as well as a detailed continued surveillance of their growth. Transferring the methodology on a larger scale using Quickbird satellite data (resolution: 60 cm) leads to the possibility of a large-scale analysis of the whole area around the city of Taroudannt (Area extent: ca. 350 km²). The results will then reveal possible relationships of gully growth and agro-industrial management and may even illustrate further interdependencies. The main objective is the identification of areas with high gully erosion risk due to non-sustainable land use and the development of mitigation strategies for the study area.
Keywords: soil erosion, land-use change, object-based classification, remote sensing, multiscale, UAV, SFAP