The resilience of a badland area to climate change in an arid environment

Aaron Yair, Rorke B. Bryan, Hanoch Lavee, Wolfgang Schwanghart, Nikolaus J. Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Badlands have long been considered as model landscapes due to their perceived close relationship between form and process. The often intense features of erosion have also attracted many geomorphologists because the associated high rates of erosion appeared to offer the opportunity for studying surface processes and the resulting forms. Recently, the perceived simplicity of badlands has been questioned because the expected relationships between driving forces for erosion and the resulting sediment yield could not be observed. Further, a high variability in erosion and sediment yield has been observed across scales. Finally, denudation based on currently observed erosion rates would have lead to the destruction of most badlands a long time ago. While the perceived simplicity of badlands has sparked a disproportional (compared to the land surface they cover) amount of research, our increasing amount of information has not necessarily increased our understanding of badlands in equal terms. Overall, badlands appear to be more complex than initially assumed. In this paper, we review 40. years of research in the Zin Valley Badlands in Israel to reconcile some of the conflicting results observed there and develop a perspective on the function of badlands as model landscapes. While the data collected in the Zin Valley clearly confirm that spatial and temporal patterns of geomorphic processes and their interaction with topography and surface properties have to be understood, we still conclude that the process of realizing complexity in the "simple" badlands has a model function both for our understanding as well as perspective on all landscape systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Badlands
  • Climate change
  • Model landscape
  • Resilience


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