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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 62 No. 1, p. 243-250
    Received: Jan 6, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): khelming@zalf.de
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Surface Roughness Related Processes of Runoff and Soil Loss: A Flume Study

  1. K. Helming ,
  2. M. J. M. Römkens and
  3. S. N. Prasad
  1. Center for Agricultural Landscape and Land Use Research, Dep. of Soil Landscape Research, Eberswalder Str. 84, D-15374 Müncheberg, Germany
    USDA-ARS National Sedimentation Lab., Oxford, MS 38655
    Dep. of Civil Engineering, Univ. of Mississippi, University, MS 38677



Soil surface roughness greatly affects surface sealing and runoff generation, yet little information is available about the effect of roughness on the spatial distribution of runoff and on flow concentration. This study tested the hypothesis that runoff distribution and flow concentration differ with roughness and affect the amount of soil loss. Sequences of four rainstorms of constant rainfall amount but decreasing intensity (60, 45, 30, and 15 mm h−1) were applied to the Ap horizon material of a loess soil (Glossic Fragiudalf) packed into a 0.6 by 3.7 m flume. Rough, medium, and smooth soil surfaces were studied at 17, 8, and 2% slope steepness. Surface roughness and flow pathways were visualized with digital elevation maps obtained from laser microrelief measurements. On the smooth surfaces, runoff was uniformly distributed during the first two rainstorms and soil losses were 0.23, 0.07, and 0.12 kg m−2 for the first and 2.26, 0.35, and 0.2 kg m−2 for the second storm at 17, 8, and 2% slope steepness, respectively. On the rough and medium surfaces, flow concentrated in pathways between clods and soil losses were up to eight and three times that on the smooth surfaces during the first and second storms, respectively. During the last two storms, flow concentrated also on the smooth surfaces and soil losses were similar for the three initially different surface configurations. Surface roughness effects on runoff amount were minor, but roughness affected the spatial distribution of runoff, thereby affecting the amount of soil loss.

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