Modeling of soil loss and its impact factors in the Guijiang Karst River Basin in Southern China

Ping Chen, Yanqing Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Guijiang Karst River Basin (GKRB) is a typical karst river basin in southern China and one of the major tributaries to the Xijiang River in the Pearl River Basin. A portion of the main stem in the upper reach of GKRB is called the Li River known for its most scenic karst landforms in the world. Soil erosion has resulted in rocky desertification in karst areas of the basin. Excessive sediment load in rivers would affect tourism navigation in the Li River and the aquatic systems in the basin. This study employed the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation Version 2(RUSLE2) model to estimate soil loss and to evaluate the impact factors for the spatial and temporal variation of soil erosion in the basin. The GKRB RUSLE2 model was calibrated with sediment yields from nine gaging stations with the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient (NSE) as high as 0.69. This study showed that soil erosion occurred on 54.9 % of the land areas that are primarily forest and cropland and in low hills with elevations ranging from 30 to 600 m. It also showed that the soil erosion rate is higher in areas where the degree of rocky desertification is more severe, indicating area with high soil erosion intensity often has high risk of rocky desertification. Impacted by monsoons, soil erosion in the study basin showed clear seasonal variation. The second quarter of the year had highest erosion rate, mostly due to the intensive late spring and early summer rainstorms. This study has shown that the RUSLE2 model can be used for karst river basin with reasonable accuracy. Findings from this study may help in identifying locations for flow and sediment control structures to reduce the risk of soil erosion and subsequently rocky desertification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number352
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Guijiang River Basin
  • Karst
  • Rocky desertification
  • Soil erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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