Evaluation of erosion and surface roughness in peatland forest ditches using pin meter measurements and terrestrial laser scanning

Leena Stenberg*, Tapio Tuukkanen, Leena Finér, Hannu Marttila, Sirpa Piirainen, Bjørn Kløve, Harri Koivusalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Anthropogenic activities on peatlands, such as drainage, can increase sediment transport and deposition downstream resulting in harmful ecological impacts. The objective of this study was to quantify changes in erosion/deposition quantities and surface roughness in peatland forest ditches by measuring changes in ditch cross-sections and surface microtopography with two alternative methods: manual pin meter and terrestrial laser scanning (TSL). The methods were applied to a peat ditch and a ditch with a thin peat layer overlaying erosion sensitive mineral soil within a period of two years following ditch cleaning. The results showed that erosion was greater in the ditch with exposed mineral soil than in the peat ditch. The two methods revealed rather similar estimates of erosion and deposition for the ditch with the thin peat layer where cross-sectional changes were large, whereas the results for smaller scale erosion and deposition at the peat ditch differed. The TLS-based erosion and deposition quantities depended on the size of the sampling window used in the estimations. Surface roughness was smaller when calculated from the pin meter data than from the TLS data. Both methods indicated that roughness increased in the banks of the ditch with a thin peat layer. TLS data showed increased roughness also in the peat ditch. The increase in surface roughness was attributed to erosion and growth of vegetation. Both methods were suitable for the measurements of surface roughness and microtopography at the ditch cross-section scale, but the applicability, rigour, and ease of acquisition of TLS data were more evident. The main disadvantage of the TLS instrument (Leica ScanStation 2) compared with pin meter was that even a shallow layer of humic (dark brown) water prevented detection of the ditch bed. The geomorphological potential of the methods was shown to be limited to detection of surface elevation changes >~0.1 m.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1299-1311
Number of pages13
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ditch cleaning
  • erosion
  • spatial analysis
  • terrestrial laser scanning
  • topography

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