Effects of rainfall and slope on runoff, soil erosion and rill development: An experimental study using two loess soils

Haiyan Fang, Liying Sun, Zhenghong Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Runoff generation and soil loss from slopes have been studied for decades, but the relationships among runoff, soil loss and rill development are still not well understood. In this paper, rainfall simulation experiments were conducted in two neighbouring plots (scale: 1m by 5m) with four varying slopes (17.6%, 26.8%, 36.4% and 46.6%) and two rainfall intensities (90 and 120mmh-1) using two loess soils. Data on rill development were extracted from the digital elevation models by means of photogrammetry. The effects of rainfall intensity and slope gradient on runoff, soil loss and rill development were different for the two soils. The runoff and soil loss from the Anthrosol surface were generally higher than those from the Calcaric Cambisol surface. Higher rainfall intensity produced less runoff and more sediment for almost each treatment. With increasing slope gradient, the values of cumulative runoff and soil loss peaked, except for the treatments with 90mmh-1 rainfall on the slopes with Anthrosol. With rainfall duration, runoff discharge decreased for Anthrosol and increased for Calcaric Cambisol for almost all the treatments. For both soils, sediment concentration was very high at the onset of rainfall and decreased quickly. Almost all the sediment concentrations increased on the 17.6% and 26.8% slopes and peaked on the 36.4% and 46.6% slopes. Sediment concentrations were higher on the Anthrosol slopes than on the Calcaric Cambisol slopes. At 90mmh-1 rainfall intensity, increasingly denser rills appeared on the Anthrosol slope as the slope gradient increased, while only steep slopes (36.4% and 46.6%) developed rills for the Calcaric Cambisol soil. The contributions of rill erosion ranged from 36% to 62% of the cumulative soil losses for Anthrosol, while the maximum contribution of rill erosion to the cumulative soil loss was only 37.9% for Calcaric Cambisol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2649-2658
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 30 2015


  • Loess soil
  • Rainfall simulation
  • Rill
  • Runoff
  • Slope gradient
  • Soil erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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