On the role of hydrologic processes in soil and landscape evolution modeling: concepts, complications and partial solutions

W.M. van der Meij*, A.J.A.M. Temme, H.S. Lin, H.H. Gerke, M. Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The ability of water to transport and transform soil materials is one of the main drivers of soil and landscape development. In turn, soil and landscape properties determine how water is distributed in soil landscapes. Understanding the complex dynamics of this co-evolution of soils, landscapes and the hydrological system is fundamental in adapting land management to changes in climate. Soil-Landscape Evolution Models (SLEMs) are used to simulate the development and evolution of soils and landscapes. However, many hydrologic processes, such as preferential flow and subsurface lateral flow, are currently absent in these models. This limits the applicability of SLEMs to improve our understanding of feedbacks in the hydro-pedo-geomorphological system. Implementation of these hydrologic processes in SLEMs faces several complications related to calculation demands, limited methods for linking pedogenic and hydrologic processes, and limited data on quantification of changes in the hydrological system over time. In this contribution, we first briefly review processes and feedbacks in soil-landscape-hydrological systems. Next, we elaborate on the development required to include these processes in SLEMs. We discuss the state-of-the-art knowledge, identify complications, give partial solutions and suggest important future development. The main requirements for incorporating hydrologic processes in SLEMs are: (1) designing a model framework that can deal with varying timescales for different sets of processes, (2) developing and implementing methods for simulating pedogenesis as a function of water flow, (3) improving and implementing knowledge on the evolution and dynamics of soil hydraulic properties over different timescales, and (4) improving the database on temporal changes and dynamics of flow paths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1106
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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