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Rangelands of southern Europe are severely affected by land degradation. This is driven by a high variability in climatic conditions in combination with human land use. The picture shows the Randi forest area in the south of Cyprus, which has been heavily grazed for several decades, and is the focal study area of this project. It provides the possibility to study several stages of ongoing land degradation in space and time. The picture illustrates different stages of land degradation. The slopes show strong signs of soil erosion: in the top centre, rills and small gullies are visible, with almost no vegetation cover left. On the top left, one can follow the pathway of the goats up the hill, which have left an imprint in the landscape. The goat pathways act as a starting point (catalyst) for further rill and gully erosion. On the slope to the left and in front there is still quite healthy vegetation cover, a mixture of perennial woody shrubs and grasses, which also indicates a more intact soil layer underneath. The slope on the right hand side has some remaining shrubs, but no grassy layer underneath to protect the soil from the heavy rainfalls in autumn and winter. The aim of this project is to study the spatial and temporal dynamics of land degradation over the last 30 years, based on observed vegetation dynamics. This is approached by long-term time series analysis of Landsat satellite imagery in combination with an analysis of rainfall and other environmental factors, as well as of grazing history. If spatial or temporal shifts can be clearly identified in the data, the use of early-warning signals for land degradation is explored. Finally, the risk of land degradation is discussed in the context of quantitative risk analysis and a new conceptual framework for land degradation assessment is proposed.
Jennifer von Keyserlingk
In the wake of changing hydro-climatological, geo-physical and socio-economic conditions the magnitude, frequency and impact of certain types of natural hazards are likely bound to change as well. This is highly of utmost importance for many regions in the world where risks due to natural hazards have to be managed and mitigated and this is where the research training group “Natural hazards and risks in a changing world (NatRiskChange)” aims to foster the scientific knowledge basis. This research training group started on October 1st 2015 and is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG. The central goal of NatRiskChange is to pursue the development of methods to improve hazard and risk analysis and quantification based on the transient, non-stationary nature of hazards and risks in response to changing natural and anthropogenically altered components of the Earth system. Key scientific aims are the development, testing, and pilot application of studies on identification, quantification (mechanisms) and prediction of transient natural hazards and associated risks.
Within NatRiskChange, a telephone aided survey was conducted in October and November 2017 among companies, which were affected from heavy rainfall or flash flood events in 2014 to 2016. We aim at gathering information about the companies experiences with severe weather warning systems, the type and extent of the damage as well es the state of recovery. Results shall identify improved mitigation measures for the management of eavy rainfall events. We thank all participants of the survey for their support!