Addressing Soil Degradation and Flood Risk Decision Making in Levee Protected Agricultural Lands under Increasingly Variable Climate Conditions


Public and private levee systems may not be robust enough to address flooding risk to agriculture under changing climate conditions. Of concern are levee protected riverine bottomlands with intensive agricultural uses and diminished wetland systems that give resilience to floodplain hydrologic functions. In the United States natural and induced levee breaching has caused soil damage, loss of agricultural productivity, and public tension among agricultural landowners, urban residents, and environmental interests. Risk management and adaptive capacity of this humannatural system could be improved by assessments of 1) soil damage and 2) stakeholder values, fears, and knowledge about the riverine bottomland agroecosystem.

Share and Cite:

Morton, L. and Olson, K. (2014) Addressing Soil Degradation and Flood Risk Decision Making in Levee Protected Agricultural Lands under Increasingly Variable Climate Conditions. Journal of Environmental Protection, 5, 1220-1234. doi: 10.4236/jep.2014.512117.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Coumou, D. and Rahmstorf, S. (2012) A Decade of Weather Extremes. Nature Climate Change, 2, 491-496.
[2] Wisner, B., Blaikie, P., Cannon, T. and Davis, I. (2004) At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters. 2nd Edition, Routledge, New York.
[3] Mileti, D.S. (1999) Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.
[4] Gopalakrishnam, C. (2013) Water and Disasters: A Review and Analysis of Policy Aspects. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 29, 250-271.
[5] McBean, G. and Rodgers, C. (2010) Climate hazards and Disasters: The Need for Capacity Building. Advanced Review, 1, 871-884.
[6] Bates, B.C., Kundzewicz, Z.W., Wu, S. and Palutikof, J.P. (2008) Climate Change and Water. Technical paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva.
[7] Romero-Lankao, P., Smith, J.B., Davidson, D., Diffenbaugh, N., Kinney, P., Kirshen, P., Kovacs, P. and Ruiz, L.V. (2014) North America. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability, Volume II: Regional Aspects Ch 26, IPCC 5th Assessment Report WG11 AR 5.
[8] Olson, K.R. and Morton, L.W. (2012) The Impacts of 2011 Man-Induced Levee Breaches on Agricultural Lands of the Mississippi River Valley. JSWC, 67, 5A-10A.
[9] Walker, B. and Salt, D. (2006) Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
[10] Park, J.T., Seager, P., Rao, S.C., Convertino, N. and Linkov, I. (2012) Integrating Risk and Resilience Approaches to Catastrophe Management in Engineering Systems.
[11] Morton, L.W. and Olson, K.R. (2013) Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway: Redesign, Reconstruction and Restoration. JSWC, 69, 35A-40A.
[12] Committee on US Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Science, Engineering and Planning; Water Science and Technology Board, WSTB; Division on Earth and Life Studies, DELS; National Research Council, NRC (2012) Corps of Engineers Water Resources Infrastructure: Deterioration, Investment or Divestment. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
[13] Barry, J.M. (1997) Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. Simon & Schuster, New York.
[14] Lowery, B., Cox, C., Lemke, D., Nowak, P., Olson, K.R. and Strock, J. (2009) The 2008 Midwest Flooding Impact on Soil Erosion and Water Quality: Implications for Soil Erosion Control Practices. JSWC, 64, 166A.
[15] Olson, K.R. (2009) Impacts of 2008 Flooding on Agricultural Lands in Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. JSWC, 64,167A-171A.
[16] Londono, A.C. and Hart, M.L. (2013) Landscape Response to the International Use of the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway on May 3, 2011. Journal of Hydrology, 489, 135-147.
[17] Olson, K.R. and Morton, L.W. (2012) The Effects of 2011 Ohio and Mississippi River Valley Flooding on Cairo, Illinois Area. JSWC, 67, 42A-46A.
[18] Olson, K.R. and Morton, L.W. (2013) Restoration of 2011 Flood Damaged Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway. JSWC, 69, 13A-18A.
[19] Olson, K.R. and Morton, L.W. (2013) Impacts of 2011 Len Small Levee Breach on Private and Public Lands. JSWC, 68, 89A-95A.
[20] Olson, K.R. and Morton, L.W. (2013) Soil and Crop Damages as a Result of Levee Breaches on Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Journal of Earth Science and Engineering, 3, 1-20.
[21] USACE, US Army Corps of Engineers (2010) National Report: Responding to National Water Resources Challenges .USACE Civil Works Directorate, Washington, D.C.
[22] Olson, K.R., Lang, J.M., Garcia-Paredes, J.D., Majchrzak, R.N., Hadley, C.I., Woolery, M.E. and Rejesus, R.M. (2000) Average Crop, Pasture and Forestry Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils. Bulletin 810, University of Illinois, ACES, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.
[23] Olson, K.R. and Lang, J.M. (2000) Optimum Crop Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soil Average Crop, Pasture and Forestry Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils. Bulletin 811, University of Illinois, ACES, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.
[24] Chormanski, J., Okruszko, T., Ignar, S., Batelaan, O., Rebel, K.T. and Wassen, M.J. (2011) Flood Mapping with Remote Sensing and Hydrochemistry: A New Method to Distinguish the Origin of Flood Water during Floods. Ecological Engineering, 37, 1334-1349.
[25] Camillo, C.A. (2012) Divine Providence: The 2011 Flood in Mississippi River and Tributaries Project. The Mississippi River Commission, Vicksburg.
[26] Flood Control Act, FCA (1928).
[27] Rahm, C. (2013) Bootheel Adds More Wetland Acres and Wetlands Help Mitigate Flooding. Missouri Ruralist, 60.
[28] US Census of Agriculture United States Department of Agriculture (2013)
[29] Hatfield, J. and Morton, L.W. (2013) Marginality Principle. In: Lal, R. and Stewart, B.A., Eds., Principles of Sustainable Soil Management in Agroecosystems. Advances in Soil Science, Taylor & Francis, CRC Press, New York, 19-55.
[30] Bruneta, R.C. and Astin, K.B. (2008) A Comparison of Sediment Deposition in Two Adjacent Floodplains of the River Adour in Southwest France. Journal of Environmental Management, 88, 651-657.
[31] Bendix, J. and Hupp, C.R. (2000) Hydrological and Geomorphological Impacts on Riparian Plant Communities. Hydrological Processes, 14, 2977-2990.<2977::
[32] McCleland, J. (2013) Nobody Fully Satisfied with St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway Draft EIS. KRCU.
[33] USACE, US Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District (2013) East Prairie, Missouri Public Hearing for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway Project.
[34] Dietz, T. (2013) Bringing Values and Deliberation to Science Communication, PNAS, 110, 14081-14087.
[35] Sorice, M.G., Oh, D.O., Gartner, T., Snieckus, M., Johnson, R. and Donlan, C.J. (2013) Increasing Participation in Incentive Programs for Biodiversity Conservation. Ecological Applications, 23, 1146-1155.
[36] Morton, L.W. and Brown, S.S. (2011) Pathways for Getting to Better Water Quality: The Citizen Effect. Springer Science + Business, New York.
[37] Chapin, F.S., Carpenter, S.R., Kofinas, G.P., Folke, C., Abel, N., Clark, W.C. , Olsson, P., Smith, D.M.S. Walker, B., Young, O.R., Berkes, F., Biggs, R., Grover, J.M., Naylor, R.L., Pinkerton, E., Steffen, W. and Swanson, F.J. (2009) Ecosystem Stewardship: Sustainability Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Planet. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25, 241-249.
[38] McLaughlin, D. and Cohen, M.J. (2013) Realizing Ecosystem Services: Wetland Hydrologic Function along a Gradient of Ecosystem Condition. Ecological Applications, 23, 1619-1631.
[39] Bormann, H., Pinter, N. and Elfert, C. (2011) Hydrological Signatures of Flood Trends on German Rivers: Flood Frequencies, Flood Heights and Specific Stages. Journal of Hydrology, 404, 50-66.
[40] Schmocker-Fackel, P. and Naef, N. (2010) Changes in Flood Frequencies in Switzerland Since 1500. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 14, 1581-1594.
[41] Changnon, S.A., Kunkel, K.E. and Andsager, K. (2001) Causes for Record High Flood Losses in the Central United States. Water International, 26, 223-230.
[42] Goodwell, A.E., Zhu, Z., Dutta, D., Greenberg, J.A., Kumar, P., Garcia, M.H., Rhoads, B.L., Holmes, R.R., Parker, G., Berretta, D.P. and Jacobson, R.B. (2014) Assessment of Floodplain Vulnerability during Extreme Mississippi River Flood 2011. Environmental Science Technology, 48, 2619-2625.
[43] National Academies (2012) Disaster Resilience Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters. Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
[44] Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design. Harper Collins, New York.
[45] Sidle, R.C., Benson, W.H., Carriger, J.F. and Kamai, T. (2013) Broader Perspective on Ecosystem Sustainability: Consequences for Decision Making. PNAS, 110, 9201-9208.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.