Linking hydrological connectivity to gully erosion in savanna rangelands tributary to the Great Barrier Reef using structure‐from‐motion photogrammetry

Koci, Jack, Sidle, Roy C., Jarihani, Ben, and Cashman, Matthew J. (2020) Linking hydrological connectivity to gully erosion in savanna rangelands tributary to the Great Barrier Reef using structure‐from‐motion photogrammetry. Land Degradation and Development, 31 (1). pp. 20-36.

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Gully erosion is a major land management challenge globally and a particularly important issue in dry tropical savanna rangelands tributary to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. This study investigated linkages between hillslope hydrological connectivity pathways and gully geomorphic change in the Burdekin River Basin. High‐resolution (0.1 m) topographic and land cover data derived from low‐cost aerial (via unmanned aircraft system) structure‐from‐motion with multiview stereo photogrammetry (SfM) were used to map fine‐scale connectivity patterns and quantify headcut retreat at the hillslope scale (~150,000 m2). Very high resolution (0.01 m) topographic models derived from ground‐based (via handheld digital camera) SfM were used to quantify the morphology and geomorphic change of several gully arms (300–700 m2) between 2016 and 2018. Median linear, areal, and volumetric headcut (n = 21) retreat rates were 0.2 m, 0.8 m2, and 0.3 m3 yr−1, respectively. At all study sites, the points where modelled hydrological flow lines intersected gullies corresponded to observed geomorphic change, enabling spatially explicit identification of gully extension pathways as a result of overland flow. Application of an index of connectivity demarcated parts of the hillslope most connected to the gully network. Bare areas, roads, and cattle trails were identified as important runoff source areas and hydrological conduits driving gully extension. Ground‐based SfM accurately reconstructed complex morphologic features including undercuts, overhangs, rills, and flutes, providing insights into within‐channel erosion processes. This study contributes to an improved understanding and modelling of hydrogeomorphic drivers of gully erosion in degraded savanna rangelands, ultimately benefiting gully management.

Item ID: 64325
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-145X
Keywords: drone; hydrogeomorphology; index of connectivity; overland flow; runoff; unmanned aircraft system (UAS)
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Copyright Information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Funders: Australian Government Research Training Program (AG-RTP), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia (CSIRO), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)
Projects and Grants: AG-RTP Scholarship, CSIRO Post‐graduate Scholarship, MLA Post‐graduate Scholarship
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 01:45
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370901 Geomorphology and earth surface processes @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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