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Soil erosion by water (CLIM 028) - Assessment published Sep 2008

Indicator Assessment Created 08 Sep 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 11 Sep 2012, 04:51 PM
Topics: ,

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

Key policy question: ..

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

Key assessment

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).

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Geertrui Veerle Erika Louwagie


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