Rainfall Erosivity in the EU and Switzerland (R-factor)

Dataset (GIS map) (2015) and associated products for the "Rainfall erosivity" (R-factor), one of the input layers when calculating the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) model, which is the most frequently used model for soil erosion risk estimation; for EU28+Switzerland; R-factor map at resolutions of 500m.


Title: Rainfall erosivity in Europe
Description: This map provides a complete rainfall erosivity dataset for European Union (28 member States) and Switzerland based on 1541 precipitation stations and 26,394 years of measurements. Gaussian Process Regression(GPR) model was used to interpolate the rainfall erosivity values of single stations and to generate the R-factor map.
Spatial coverage: European Union (28 Countries) & Switzerland
Pixel size: 500m
Measurement Unit: MJ mm ha-1 h-1 yr-1
Projection: ETRS89 Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area
Temporal coverage: 40 years - Predominant in the last decade: 2000 - 2010


R-factor in Europe

The purpose of this study is to assess rainfall erosivity in Europe in the form of the RUSLE R-factor, based on the best available datasets in Europe. We used the Rainfall Erosivity Database on the European Scale(REDES) which contains 1,541 precipitation stations in all European Union(EU) Member States and Switzerland, with temporal resolutions of 5 to 60 minutes. The R-factor values calculated from precipitation data of different temporal resolutions were normalised to R-factor values with temporal resolutions of 30 minutes using linear regression functions. Precipitation time series ranged from a minimum of 5 years to maximum of 40 years. The average time series per precipitation station is around 17.1 years, the most datasets including the first decade of the 21st century. Gaussian Process Regression(GPR) has been used to interpolate the R-factor station values to a European rainfall erosivity map at 1 km resolution. The covariates used for the R-factor interpolation were climatic data (total precipitation, seasonal precipitation, precipitation of driest/wettest months, average temperature), elevation and latitude/longitude. The mean R-factor for the EU plus Switzerland is 722 MJ mm ha-1 h-1 yr-1, with the highest values (>1,000 MJ mm ha-1 h-1 yr-1) in the Mediterranean and alpine regions and the lowest (Less than 500 MJ mm ha-1 h-1 yr-1) in the Nordic countries. The erosivity density (erosivity normalised to annual precipitation amounts) was also highest in Mediterranean regions which implies high risk for erosive events and floods.

REDES: Rainfall Erosivity Database on the European Scale

The Rainfall Erosivity Database on the European Scale (REDES) includes high temporal resolution precipitation data and the claculated R-factor from 1,541 precipitation stations within the European Union (EU) and Switzerland. The Rainfall Erosivity Database on European Scale (REDES) of precipitation stations is the result of calculating the R-factor for a total of 26,394 years with a mean value of 17.1 years per station. The data collection exercise of high temporal resolution data began in March 2013 and was concluded in May 2014. For the present rainfall erosivity data collection exercise, a participatory approach has been followed in order to collect data from all Member States (Aknowledgments). The precipitation data collected from the 28 countries across Europe have different temporal resolutions: 60-min, 30-min, 15-min, 10-min and 5-min. In order to homogenise the R-factor results calculated using different time-step data, conversion factors were established to have the data at the 30-min temporal resolution (reference).

Future Erosivity projections in 2050 based on climate change

The rainfall erosivity in 2050 was modelled based on on a moderate climate change scenario (HadGEM RCP 4.5) and using as main data sources the REDES based European R-factors and as covariates the WorldClim climatic datasets. Although the rainfall erosivity projections are based on many uncertainties, this pan-European spatial estimation highlights the areas where rainfall erosivity is projected to undergo substantial changes. The predicted mean increase in R-factor is expected also to increase the threat of soil erosion in Europe. However, climate change might substantially affect land cover and land use, which might counterbalance or enhance some erosional trends. The most prominent increases of R-factors are predicted for North-Central Europe, the English Channel, The Netherlands and Northern France. On the contrary, parts of the Mediterranean basin show a decrease of rainfall erosivity. he mean rainfall erosivity for the European Union and Switzerland is projected to be 857 MJ mm ha-1 h-1yr-1 till 2050 showing a relative increase of 18% compared to baseline data (2010).The changes are heterogeneous in the European continent depending on the future projections of most erosive months (hot period: April–September). The output results report a pan-European projection of future rainfall erosivity taking into account the uncertainties of the climatic models.

Monthly Rainfall Erosivity in Europe

The development of Rainfall Erosivity Database at European Scale (REDES) and its 2015 update with the extension to monthly component allowed to develop monthly and seasonal R-factor maps and assess rainfall erosivity both spatially and temporally. During winter months, significant rainfall erosivity is present only in part of the Mediterranean countries. A sudden increase of erosivity occurs in major part of European Union (except Mediterranean basin, western part of Britain and Ireland) in May and the highest values are registered during summer months. Starting from September, R-factor has a decreasing trend. The mean rainfall erosivity in summer is almost 4 times higher (315 MJ mm ha-1 h-1) compared to winter (87 MJ mm ha-1 h-1). The monthly prediction is an order more difficult than the annual one as it is limited by the number of covariates and, for consistency, the sumof all months has to be close to annual erosivity. The performance of the Cubist models proved to be generally high, resulting in R2 values between 0.40 and 0.64 in cross-validation. The maps also show a clear delineation of areas with different erosivity seasonal patterns, whose spatial outline was evidenced by cluster analysis. The monthly erosivity maps can be used to develop composite indicators that map both intra-annual variability and concentration of erosive events. Consequently, spatio-temporal mapping of rainfall erosivity permits to identify the months and the areaswith highest risk of soil losswhere conservationmeasures should be applied in different seasons of the year.

Information: Panos Panagos, Cristiano Ballabio, Pasquale Borrelli, Katrin Meusburger*, European Commission,Joint Research Centre AND *Institute of Environmental Geosciences, University of Basel



The Rainfall Erosivity and the other climatic data is in Raster format. The public user can download Datasets a) Rainfall erosivity in Europe (R-factor); b) Erosivity Density; c) The standard error of the estimates; d) Monthly rainfall erosivity in Europe; e) Seasonal erosivity in Europe; f) Indicators of rainfall erosivity; g) Monthly R-factor maps of Greece and seasonal Erosivity Density;  h) The R-factor in Switzerland (as calculated in 2012) and the code for calculating R-factor. To get access to the all datasets and the code, please compile the request form; instructions will then follow how to download the datasets.

More information about Rainfall erosivity in the corresponding section.


A complete description of the methodology and the application in Europe is described in the paper:
Panagos, P., Ballabio, C., Borrelli, P., Meusburger, K., Klik, A., Rousseva, S., Tadic, M.P., Michaelides, S., Hrabalíková, M., Olsen, P., Aalto, J., Lakatos, M., Rymszewicz, A., Dumitrescu, A., Beguería, S., Alewell, C. 2015. Rainfall erosivity in Europe. Sci Total Environ. 511:  801-814. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.008 . Download the article: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.008

Ballabio, C., Borrelli, P. ,  Spinoni, J.,  Meusburger, K., Michaelides, S.,  Beguería, S., Klik, A., Petan, S., Janecek, M., Olsen, P., Aalto, J.,  Lakatos, M., Rymszewicz, A., Dumitrescu, A.,  Tadić, M.P., Nazzareno, D.,  Kostalova, J., Rousseva, S., Banasik, K., L., Alewell, C. , Panagos, P. 2017. Mapping monthly rainfall erosivity in Europe.  Sci Total Environ. 579: 1298-1315. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.123

Panagos, P., Ballabio, C., Borrelli, P., Meusburger, K.  2016. Spatio-temporal analysis of rainfall erosivity and erosivity density in GreeceCatena, 137, 2603, pp. 161-172

A reply to the comment (misunderstanding or misinterpretations) of Auerswald et al can be found in our recent paper:
Panagos, P., Meusburger K., Ballabio C., Borrelli P., Begueria S., Klik A., Rymszewicz A., Michaelides, S, Olsen, P., Tadic, M.P., P., Aalto, J., Lakatos, M., Dumitrescu, Rousseva, S., Montanarella, L., Alewell C. 2015. Reply to the comment on "Rainfall erosivity in Europe" by Auerswald et al. Science of the Total Environment, 532, pp. 853-857.  Download the Article:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.020.

R-factor STOTEN


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