Kinetic energy estimation by rainfall intensity and its usefulness in predicting hydrosedimentological variables in a small rural catchment in southern Brazil

Rafael Ramon, Jean P.G. Minella, Gustavo H. Merten, Claudia A.P. de Barros, Tiago Canale

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14 Scopus citations


One of the challenges of modern agriculture is to adapting to climatic effects, including the capacity of rainy events in causing erosion. The understanding of these phenomena relies on monitoring rain variables that express the magnitude and pattern of erosive agents. Kinetic energy (E) is a fundamental variable to represent the erosivity and to enable the estimation of erosion and sediment yield in mathematical models. In Brazil, there are no direct and continuous measurements of E, and empirical equations to estimate rainfall intensity (I) are used instead. As a result, empirical equations to estimate E from I are used. To assess local behavior between these variables, rain variables (energy, volume and intensity) and associated processes (water flow (Q) and suspended sediment concentration (SSC)) were measured in a small rural catchment. The work was developed in a small rural catchment (1.23 km2) located in southern Brazil where intensive land use with tobacco cultivation has caused high rates of erosion and sediment yield. This study proposes an alternative equation E = f(I) for the study region and provides a comparison with previous equations already proposed by Foster et al. (1981); van Dijk et al. (2002); Wilkinson (1975); Brown and Foster (1987) and USDA-ARS (2013). Furthermore, this work explores the seasonal variations and the differences in the magnitude of the events of these relationships. The measured E values were similar to those estimated by the equations of Foster et al. (1981); USDA-ARS (2013) and van Dijk et al. (2002), whereas Brown and Foster (1987) underestimate the estimation of E. Finally, it was evaluated the predictive ability of the total kinetic energy, 30 min maximum intensity (I30) and total volume of the rainfall (Ptotal) in explaining the response variables which reflect the hydrology and sediment yield processes considering the Q and SSC. The main results of the work were: i) a new equation to estimate E based on the I measured, its seasonal variation and similarity with the previously known equations and ii) the relationship between E and the hydrological variables at catchment scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank to the local farmers and the researchers/students for their assistance with the field and laboratory activities, to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and also the financial support from SINDITABACO ( 5.03.0024 ), FINEP ( 01.12.0113.00 ), CNPq ( 446405/2015-9 ) and CAPES ( 870/15 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Disdrometer
  • Environment monitoring
  • Erosivity index
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil detachment
  • Water resources

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