Modelling raindrop impact and splash erosion processes within a spatial cell: A stochastic approach

Ting Ma, Chenghu Zhou, Tongxin Zhu, Qiangguo Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A new approach is proposed to simulate splash erosion on local soil surfaces. Without the effect of wind and other raindrops, the impact of free-falling raindrops was considered as an independent event from the stochastic viewpoint. The erosivity of a single raindrop depending on its kinetic energy was computed by an empirical relationship in which the kinetic energy was expressed as a power function of the equivalent diameter of the raindrop. An empirical linear function combining the kinetic energy and soil shear strength was used to estimate the impacted amount of soil particles by a single raindrop. Considering an ideal local soil surface with size of 1 m × 1 m, the expected number of received free-falling raindrops with different diameters per unit time was described by the combination of the raindrop size distribution function and the terminal velocity of raindrops. The total splash amount was seen as the sum of the impact amount by all raindrops in the rainfall event The total splash amount per unit time was subdivided into three different components, including net splash amount, single impact amount and re-detachment amount The re-detachment amount was obtained by a spatial geometric probability derived using the Poisson function in which overlapped impacted areas were considered. The net splash amount was defined as the mass of soil particles collected outside the splash dish. It was estimated by another spatial geometric probability in which the average splashed distance related to the median grain size of soil and effects of other impacted soil particles and other free-falling raindrops were considered. Splash experiments in artificial rainfall were carried out to validate the availability and accuracy of the model. Our simulated results suggested that the net splash amount and re-detachment amount were small parts of the total splash amount Their proportions were 0·15% and 2·6%, respectively. The comparison of simulated data with measured data showed that this model could be applied to simulate the soil-splash process successfully and needed information of the rainfall intensity and original soil properties including initial bulk intensity, water content, median grain size and some empirical constants related to the soil surface shear strength, the raindrop size distribution function and the average splashed distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-723
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 30 2008


  • Geometric probability
  • Raindrop size distribution function
  • Spatial cell
  • Splash erosion


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