The Ayeyarwady River is Myanmar’s largest river and most valuable commercial waterway. The river flows from the northern mountainous regions, through the agriculturally important dry zone in the middle basin, to the productive yet fragile delta in the south.
Extreme rainfall, especially in mountainous areas, has further potential to amplify soil erosion or trigger landslides. Upland soil erosion is thought to be contributing to rapidly increasing river sedimentation, compromising the navigation of the river.
Soil erosion is a major contributor to sedimentation and lowering of water quality as well as a threat to the agricultural development in Myanmar since the effect of soil erosion is loss of agricultural productivity, increased expenditure on fertilizers, and a general decline in profitability of crop production.
The objective of the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project (AIRBMP) is to initiate the sustainable management of this invaluable waterway including strengthen integrated, climate resilient management and development of the Basin and its water resources. The EO4SD initiative is supporting AIRBMP with different Earth Observation demonstrations including a largely EO driven approach for mapping the current rates and trends of soil erosion in the Ayeyarwady basin as a baseline for future monitoring of soil loss in the basin.
The soil erosion assessment is based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) which predicts the potential long-term average annual rate of soil erosion considering the effects of climate, soil, topography, vegetation/crop and management practices. In the case of Ayeyarwady the USLE model have been implemented using the following spatial datasets: [i] mean annual rainfall from TRMM3B42 precipitation data; [ii] Harmonised World Soil Database (HSWD); [iii] ALOS Global Digital Surface Model and [vi] ESA CCI Land Cover map (2015) (© GeoVille).
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