An SRTM-based procedure to delineate SOTER terrain units on 1:1 and 1:5 million scales


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Soil data of various scales is needed to well manage our agricultural and environmental resources. On the European level soil information is used for crop monitoring, yield forecasting, agricultural planning, feasibility studies for rural development, natural hazards forecasting, such as floods and landslides or slowly acting processes such as erosion, acidification and other types of chemical, biological and physical degradation of soils. No appropriate scale soil database for the European Union had existed before the late eighties. The strong need for policy support has speed up the database compilation and resulted in the first version of the Soil Geographical Database of Eurasia at scale 1:1 million (SGDBE1M). Despite of its limitations, SGDBE1M is still among the few databases, which serve as a flagship in the development of the small scale spatial databases in Europe. The version 2.0 of SGDBE1M was published recently, in 2004. The refinement of the database and the extension of its geographic coverage to Eurasia and the Mediterranean Africa are in preparation.

A similar soil database would be needed for global scale forecasting, modelling and research. However the only available soil map with a global coverage is the 1 to 5 million scale FAO soil map of the world, which has been compiled from data collected up to the late seventies. Since the completion of the FAO soil map much new data have been documented and new approaches of mapping and database development have been developed. The lack of a standardized, compatible, credible soils database at appropriate scale is a major constraint to global modelling. Therefore, the SOTER (World SOil and TERrain Digital Database) project was initiated by the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) in 1986 (ISSS, 1986). SOTER is intended to have a global coverage at 1:1 million scale (Batjes, 1990; ISRIC, 1993), which goal was later degraded to 1:5 million scale due to the lack of means.

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