Modeling of Soil Erosion with Landlab in Python – Open Source Software

Soil erosion is the movement of the upper soil layers caused by processes related to water or wind. Soil erosion can occur slowly on the surface, however, soil alterations caused by human activity can increase this rate in 10 to 40 times. The evaluation of soil erosion is important to estimate the impact of human activities and the planning of remediation plans.

This article introduces the Landlab environment, which is developed in Python, as well as a practical example of soil erosion modeling on slopes over time.

 

What is Landlab?

Landlab is a model environment based in Python for the numerical model of landscape models. The software is designed for scientific fields and calculates the dynamics of earth surface such as geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, stratigraphy and others related.

Landlab components can calculate fluxes like water, sediments, glaciers, volcanic material and landslides. This calculus is made through terrain grids.

Landlab is open source and has been designed to accelerate the development of models providing tools to generate grids, components of interoperable processes and tools for input, output and represent data.

Landlab allows scientifics and professionals to develop landscape models in a quick way and calculate mass balances at different scales.

Learn more about Landlab in the following website: https://landlab.github.io

 

Case Study

To show Landlab’s versatility we have developed a modified model based on Landlab’s tutorial. This model represents a slope in an inclined terrain. The model dimensions are 240m in the X axis, 160m in the Y axis and 4m high. The slope is 1m high.

 Aerial view of the original elevations of the slope.

Aerial view of the original elevations of the slope.

 Profile view of the original elevations of the slope.

Profile view of the original elevations of the slope.

The model has been simulated for 4000 years divided in 50 simulation periods. A representation of the final geometry of the erosioned surface is shown in the following images.

 Aerial view of the final elevations of the slope.

Aerial view of the final elevations of the slope.

 Profile view of the final elevations of the slope.

Profile view of the final elevations of the slope.

An important erosion of the slope is produced over time. Since Landlab can make calculus over time, with the help of Jupyter interactive tools we can make an animation of soil erosion. Every time step represents 80 years.

 Soil erosion animation for 4000 years with time steps of 80 years.

Soil erosion animation for 4000 years with time steps of 80 years.

 

Tutorial

 

Input Data

Download the input data here.

Saul Montoya

Saul Montoya es Ingeniero Civil graduado de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú en Lima con estudios de postgrado en Manejo e Ingeniería de Recursos Hídricos (Programa WAREM) de la Universidad de Stuttgart con mención en Ingeniería de Aguas Subterráneas y Hidroinformática.

Smiley face

Subscribe to our free e-newsletter for tutorials, articles, webminars, courses and more.