The effect of intense rainstorm events on the suspended sediment response under various land uses : the Aísa Valley experimental station

E. Nadal-Romero, T. Lasanta Martínez, J. C. González-Hidalgo, M. de Luis, J. M. García-Ruiz


Time compression was studied at the Aísa Valley Experimental Station to assess the effect of large rainfall events on suspended sediment load. The study was focused on the response of land under traditional and current land uses/land covers in Mediterranean mountain areas, including dense shrub cover, grazing meadow, abandoned field, cereal cultivation, fallow land and both active and abandoned shifting agriculture. The results confirm the importance of the largest rainfall events in explaining the geomorphological effects that occur during a small number of such events. Three groups of land uses were distinguished: (i) dense shrub cover and grazing meadow, which showed relatively little time compression; (ii) cereal cultivation, fallow land, and both active and abandoned shifting agriculture, which were characterized by a high degree of time compression and a major impact of the largest events; and (iii) the abandoned field, which was intermediate in response between the other two groups. The greater geomorpho-logical effects of the largest events in the plots at the Aísa Valley Experimental Station relative to those reported in studies in the USA, is a consequence of the Mediterranean climate charac-teristics, and in part because of scale effects. The contribution of the three largest events to total accumulated suspended sediment load ranged from 25.4 to 71.2% whereas for the five largest events it ranged from 35.4 to 76.9%. For each of the land uses the 25 largest events represented more than 80% (in some cases more than 90%) of the total suspended sediment load recorded since 1991.


Time compression; largest events; suspended sediment load; experimental plots; Mediterranean mountains

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