Soil erosion by water is a problem wherever erodible soil is combined with sloping land, low soil cover and heavy rainfall and is therefore a problem across Europe. Agricultural practices exacerbate erosion. The Mediterranean region is particularly prone to water erosion because it is subject to long dry periods followed by heavy rainfall on steep slopes and fragile soils. In parts of Europe that experience snow cover in winter, erosion is often caused by snowmelt on partially frozen soil during winter and early spring. Although the physics of the process are well understood, challenges remain because of large spatial and temporal variability and because of the need to combine remediation measures with agricultural activities.   

A video link to a presentation explaining soil erosion by water can be viewed here.


Soil erosion by water in orange orchards, Spain 

Effects of Soil Erosion
There are numerous effects of soil erosion which can occur on-site or off-site, further away from the source of erosion.

On-site erosion effects include

  • Loss of soil fertility from field affecting crop yields
  • Destruction of infrastructure, such as tracks and roads
  • Pollution of watering points for livestock

Off-site erosion effects include

  • Flash floods down stream of the erosion site
  • Water pollution
  • Sedimentation of water reservoirs

Soil erosion by wind is another problem occurring across Europe, usually as a consequence of cultivation when fields are left exposed for a period of time. Iceland is a special case having soils especially prone to wind erosion due to their physical properties that interact with climatic factors, as is reflected in the fact that about 40% of the land area suffers from wind erosion.  

A video link to a presentation explaining soil erosion by wind can be viewed here.


Soil erosion by wind on Iceland