News of the WeekEnvironment

Sharp Drop Seen in Soil Erosion Rates

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Science  20 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5431, pp. 1187-1189
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5431.1187

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C In a surprising finding that runs counter to the prevailing wisdom, a researcher has found that soil erosion rates are running much lower than generally estimated and that over the past few decades, they appear to have been a tiny fraction of their historical peaks. His conclusions are based on 140 years of data on sedimentation in the heavily farmed Coon Creek Basin, which drains into the Mississippi River 25 kilometers south of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The study, reported on page 1244 of this issue, is being hailed for its scope, but it is also generating controversy; some critics question the study's methods, while others argue that the Coon Creek rates may not be typical.