Gully in Mbuji-Mayi, Congo. (Credit: Matthias Vanmaercke)
In a release from KU Leuven, researchers show a significant link between stronger rains due to climate change and faster erosion of gullies, large natural channels that carry flowing water. Geographers have found that higher rainfall rates due to climate change can cause gullies to erode up to three times faster than they have in the past.
An international team gathered and analyzed gully erosion data from 26 countries for the study. Data showed that gullies can undergo dramatic growth during even one downpour, as much as 100 meters of gully expansion.
The rate of gully expansion is expected to double for the U.S. and Western Europe due to an increase in rainfall intensity of 10 to 15 percent. In places like Ethiopia, with tropical weather, the gully expansion rate may triple. Such a dramatic increase in gully erosion is likely to cause a significant decrease in water quality and agricultural output while also causing an increase in mud floods.
Luckily, gully erosion can be stopped through soil and water conservation practices. The team built a model that can predict which areas are most susceptible.
Top image: Gully in Mbuji-Mayi, Congo. (Credit: Matthias Vanmaercke)