Set-up and calibration of a portable small scale rainfall simulator for assessing soil erosion processes at interrill scale

J. J. Zemke


A portable rainfall simulator was built for assessing runoff and soil erosion processes at interrill scale. Within this study, requirements and constraints of the rainfall simulator are identified and discussed. The focus lies on the calibration of the simulator with regard to spatial rainfall homogeneity, rainfall intensity, drop size, drop fall velocity and rainfall kinetic energy. These parameters were obtained using different methods including a Laser Precipitation Monitor. A detailed presentation of the operational characteristics is given. The presented rainfall simulator setup featured a rainfall intensity of 45.4 mm·h-1 with a spatial homogeneity of 80.4% based on a plot area of 0.64 m². Because of the comparatively low drop height (2 m), the diameter-dependent terminal fall velocity (1.87 m·s-1) was lower than benchmark values for natural rainfall. This conditioned also a reduced rainfall kinetic energy (4.6 J·m-2·mm-1) compared to natural rainfall with same intensity. These shortfalls, a common phenomenon concerning portable rainfall simulators, represented the best possible trade-off between all relevant rainfall parameters obtained with the given simulator setup. Field experiments proved that the rainfall erosivity was constant and replicable.


runoff; soil erosion; rainfall erosivity; rainfall kinetic energy; rainfall simulation

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