You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Soil erosion by water / Soil erosion by water

Soil erosion by water

Indicator Assessment Created 08 Sep 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
Note: new version is available!
Topics: ,
Indicator codes: CLIM 028

Key messages

  • An estimated 115 million hectares, 12 % of the total EU land area, are subject to water erosion.
  • The projected changes in the climate during the 21st century, with increased variations in rainfall pattern and intensity, will make soils more susceptible to erosion.
  • The off-site effects of soil erosion will increase with climate change and related changes in rainfall pattern and intensity.


Soil erosion risk assessment for Europe for the year 2000

Note: The map shows the soil erosion risk assessment for Europe for the year 2000

Data source:

Joint Research Centre (JRC), INRA (France), (

Downloads and more info

Past trends

Past trends for erosion are not available on the European scale. Based on EU-wide modelling, an estimated 115 million hectares or 12 % of the total EU land area is (in 2000) subject to water erosion (see Figure 1). In this assessment the risk of erosion by water was calculated by using yearly average values for precipitation. However such risks are in fact to a large extent determined by extreme precipitation events (e.g. daily, hourly). The uncertainty of this modelled erosion risk is therefore high, especially at the local level.


Several studies have been conducted to model the effects of future climate change on soil erosion (e.g. Kirkby et al., 2004). These show a non-linear spatial and temporal response of soil erosion to climate change, with relatively large increases I erosion during wet years compared with dry years, and sporadic increases spatially. Erosion is projected to increase with increases in precipitation amount and intensity, and to decrease with increases in ground cover and canopy cover (IPCC, 2007a).

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

  • Soil erosion risk assessment for Europe for the year 2000


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata


Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

climate change | erosion | soil
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 028
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Management Plan

2008 2.3.1 (note: EEA internal system)


Filed under: , ,
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100