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    Study on Soil and water in a changing environment

    Final Report, June 2014

  • A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet.

    It can be accessed through the Europa server (http://ec.europa.eu). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2014

    ISBN 978-92-79-38794-4

    DOI: 10.2779/20608 No of catalogue: KH-02-14-745-EN-N

    European Union, 2014 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

  • Soil and water in a changing environment

    FINAL REPORT

    European Commission (DG ENV) 27 June 2014

  • 2 | Soil and water in a changing environment

    Document information

    CLIENT European Commission (DG ENV)

    CONTRACT NUMBER 07.0307/2012/635531/ETU/B.1

    REPORT TITLE Final Report

    PROJECT NAME Soil and water in a changing environment

    PROJECT TEAM BIO Intelligence Service, HydroLogic

    PROJECT OFFICERS Mr. Luca Marmo Mr. Thomas Strassburger Ms. Alia Atitar de la Fuente

    DATE 27 June 2014

    AUTHORS Shailendra Mudgal, BIO Intelligence Service Sarah Lockwood, BIO Intelligence Service Helen Ding, BIO Intelligence Service Slavco Velickov, HydroLogic Tom Commandeur, HydroLogic Michael Siek, HydroLogic

    KEY CONTACTS Shailendra Mudgal sm@biois.com

    Or

    Sarah Lockwood sarah.lockwood@biois.com

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We are grateful for comments given on an earlier version of the manuscript by Prof. Sjoerd van der Zee (Wageningen University, NL), Dr. Dagmar Haase (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, DE) and Dr. Csilla Farkas (Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, HU). We would also like to thank Carlo Lavalle, Claudia Baranzelli and Ana Luisa Barbosa from the JRC for providing us with a scenario of reference and relevant datasets for the future projections of the soil water holding capacity. We would also like to thank Sandra Berman for her review of intermediary versions as well as Claire-Marie Gherardi, Amandine De Schaetzen, Isabelle Ma, Guillaume Furet and Elsa Ouvrard for their help in collecting information.

  • Soil and water in a changing environment | 3

    DISCLAIMER This report contains the results of research by the authors and is not to be perceived as the opinion of the European Commission. The project team does not accept any liability for any direct or indirect damage resulting from the use of this report or its content.

    Please cite this publication as:

    BIO Intelligence Service (2014), Soil and water in a changing environment, Final Report prepared

    for European Commission (DG ENV), with support from HydroLogic

    Photo credit: cover @ Per Ola Wiberg

    BIO Intelligence Service 2014

  • 4 | Soil and water in a changing environment

    This page is left intentionally blank.

  • Soil and water in a changing environment | 5

    Table of Contents

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 11

    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 23

    GLOSSARY 25

    INTRODUCTION 29

    CHAPTER 1 SOIL WATER RETENTION CAPACITY OR HOW SOILS CAPTURE,

    STORE AND RELEASE WATER 33

    1.1 Soil water retention in the water cycle 33

    1.2 Mechanisms of soil water retention 34

    1.2.1 Introduction 34

    1.2.2 Description of mechanisms 36

    1.3 Ecosystem services dependent on soil water retention capacity 38

    1.3.1 Provisioning services 40

    1.3.2 Regulation services 41

    1.3.3 Supporting services 43

    1.4 Synthesis 45

    CHAPTER 2 PARAMETERS INFLUENCING SOIL WATER RETENTION CAPACITY 47

    2.1 Properties of the soil matrix and related parameters 48

    2.1.1 Soil structure 48

    2.1.2 Soil texture 50

    2.1.3 Soil organic matter 51

    2.1.4 Soil biodiversity 52

    2.2 Soil cover 53

    2.2.1 Overview 53

    2.2.2 Impacts of different land covers 54

    2.3 Soil water content 56

    2.4 Climate parameters 57

    2.5 Synthesis and discussion 58

    CHAPTER 3 KEY DRIVERS INFLUENCING SOIL WATER RETENTION AND IMPACTS

    ON ASSOCIATED ECOSYSTEM SERVICES 63

    3.1 Land use trends 63

  • 6 | Soil and water in a changing environment

    3.1.1 Context 63

    3.1.2 Land use changes between forests, grassland, arable land and urban areas 64

    3.2 Management practices in agriculture, and opportunities for improving soil

    water retention capacity 73

    3.2.1 Farming systems in the EU 73

    3.2.2 Choice of plant species 76

    3.2.3 Soil management 78

    3.2.4 Water management 83

    3.2.5 Landscape management 84

    3.2.6 Discussion 85

    3.3 Urbanisation patterns and opportunities for better SWR capacity 86

    3.3.1 Density of development 86

    3.3.2 Capacity of infiltration within the cities: green infrastructures, permeable materials and urban drainage capacity 89

    3.4 Climate change 91

    3.5 Synthesis and discussion 92

    CHAPTER 4 TRENDS IN SOIL WATER RETENTION CAPACITY 97

    4.1 Trends in the capacity of soil to hold water 98

    4.1.1 Trends due to land use changes and agricultural practices 98

    4.1.2 Impact of urbanisation 104

    4.2 Trends in the risk of SWR related flooding and droughts in a changing

    climate 108

    4.2.1 Risk of flooding (increased runoff) 108

    4.2.2 Risk of droughts 112

    4.3 Effects of SWR capacitys evolution on water use 116

    4.4 Discussion and Conclusions 118

    CHAPTER 5 ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE DISRUPTION OF SOIL WATER

    RETENTION CAPACITY 121

    5.1 Impacts of floods 122

    5.1.1 Arable land 123

    5.1.2 Grassland 125

    5.1.3 Forest land 126

    5.1.4 Urban land 127

    5.2 Impacts of droughts 128

    5.2.1 Arable land 129

    5.2.2 Forest land 131

  • Soil and water in a changing environment | 7

    5.3 Synthesis and discussion 133

    CONCLUDING REMARKS 135

    REFERENCES 139

    ANNEX 1 OVERVIEW OF THE CASE STUDIES INVESTIGATED

    ANNEX 2 FURTHER ANALYSIS OF SOME PARAMETERS AND DRIVERS OF SOIL

    WATER RETENTION CAPACITY

    ANNEX 3 DETAILED METHODOLOGY FOR THE ESTIMATION OF PAST, CURRENT

    AND FUTURE TRENDS IN SWR

    ANNEX 4 ESTIMATING ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF CHANGES IN SWR

    ANNEX 5 EXPERTS CONSULTATION

  • 8 | Soil and water in a changing environment

    List of Tables

    Table 1: Major parameters governing soil water retention capacity ............................................. 12

    Table 2: SWR capacity of different land use types ....................................................................... 13

    Table 3: Impact of land cover changes on maximum soil water content ...................................... 14

    Table 4: Impact of different farming practices on SWR capacity .................................................. 17

    Table 5: Summary of the key parameters influencing SWR capacity ........................................... 60

    Table 6: Impact of land use changes on bulk density (BD) and organic carbon (OC) .................... 67

    Table 7: Impact of agricultural practices on bulk density (BD) and organic matter (OM) .............. 75

    Table 8: Main drivers influencing soil water retention capacity .................................................... 92

    Table 9: Estimated economic impacts derived from yield losses during the flood event ............ 124

    Table 10: Economic impacts of flood on recreational forest service in selected MS ................... 126

    Table 11: Economic damages due to floods in urban areas ........................................................ 128

    Table 12: Estimated economic impacts of drought on arable lands ........................................... 130

    Table 13: Estimated economic impacts of drought on forest for selected MS ............................ 132

    List of Figures

    Figure 1: The water cycle water content and residence time ..................................................... 33

    Figure 2: Soil water retention in the water cycle .......................................................................... 34

    Figure 3: Schematic illustration of soil water retention ................................................................ 34

    Figure 4: Dynamics of soil water retention .................................................................................. 35

    Figure 5: Four components of soil example of a typical agricultural soil .................................... 35

    Figure 6: Illustration of saturated and unsaturated zones ............................................................ 36

    Figure 7: Different states of water in the soil ............................................................................... 38

    Figure 8: Ecosystem services provided by soil water retention capacity ...................................... 39

    Figure 9: Prague 2002 - overview of flooded city ......................................................................... 42

    Figure 10: Access to soil water and rooting depth ........................................................................ 43

    Figure 11: Parameters affecting soil water retention capacity ..................................................... 47

  • Soil and water in a changing environment | 9

    Figure 12: Key soil dwellers, intervening on SWR capacity as physical and chemical engineers

    or biological regulators ................................................................................................................ 52

    Figure 13: Influence of forest on runoff vs. infiltration .................................