Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the primary elements required in the functioning of ecosystems. Soil erosion, a major mechanism of land degradation, removes SOC and transfers it to the hydrosphere or the atmosphere, thereby affecting key ecosystem functions and services. The Mediterranean region is highly susceptible to land degradation because of erosion due to heavy rains following long, dry, hot summers. Although the Mediterranean landscape typically has a high altitude and incline, the soil is brittle and soft and is easily washed away by rain. Thus, vast regions in Turkey have been afflicted by this type of soil degradation. This study aimed to (1) estimate the temporal distribution of water erosion in the Seyhan River Basin, (2) assess the spatial distribution of SOC and (3) estimate the depletion of SOC through soil erosion using the Pan-European Soil Erosion Risk Assessment model, a physically based, regionally scaled soil erosion model.
The annual amount of soil eroded from the Seyhan River Basin is estimated to be 7.8 million tonnes per hectare (t ha–1 year–1). The amount of fertile soil loss from agricultural areas is ~1.2 million tonnes per year. The maximum amount of soil erosion occurs in maintenance scrubland and degraded forest areas, contributing to 68% of erosion, followed by that in agricultural land, contributing to 27% of erosion, with the remaining in forests and urban areas.