** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Human geosciences


    Geomorphometric characterization of natural and anthropogenic land covers

    Wenfang CAO, Giulia Sofia, Paolo Tarolli

    Geomorphology, Geomorphometry, Anthropogenic impact, Land cover.

    The scientific community has widely discussed the role of abiotic and biotic forces in reshaping the Earth’s surface. Currently, the literature is debating whether humans are leaving a topographic signature on the landscape. Apart from the influence of humans on processes, does the resulting landscape bear an unmistakable signature of anthropogenic activities? This research analyses from a statistical point of view the morphological signature of anthropogenic and natural land covers in different topographic context, as a fundamental challenge in the emerging debate of human-environment relationships and the modelling of global environmental change. It aims to explore how intrinsically small-scale processes, related to land use, can influence the form of entire landscapes and to determine whether these processes create a distinctive topography. The work focusses on four study areas in floodplains, plain to hilly, hills and mountains, for which LiDAR-derived Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) are available. Surface morphology is described with different geomorphometric parameters (slope, mean curvature and surface peak curvature) and their frequency distribution. The results show that the distribution of geomorphometric indices can reveal anthropogenic land covers and landscapes. In most cases, different land covers show statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) in their morphology. Finally, this study demonstrates the possibility to use a geomorphic analysis to quantify anthropogenic impact based on land covers in different landscape contexts. This provides useful insight into understanding the impact of human activities on the present morphology and offers a comprehensive understanding of coupling human-land interaction from a geomorphological point of view.