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Keywords:

  • RUSLE;
  • runoff;
  • erosion;
  • concentrated flow;
  • sediment;
  • ephemeral gully

Abstract

RUSLE2 (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) is the most recent in the family of Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE)/RUSLE/RUSLE2 models proven to provide robust estimates of average annual sheet and rill erosion from a wide range of land use, soil, and climatic conditions. RUSLE2's capabilities have been expanded over earlier versions using methods of estimating time-varying runoff and process-based sediment transport routines so that it can estimate sediment transport/deposition/delivery on complex hillslopes. In this report we propose and evaluate a method of predicting a series of representative runoff events whose sizes, durations, and timings are estimated from information already in the RUSLE2 database. The methods were derived from analysis of 30-year simulations using a widely accepted climate generator and runoff model and were validated against additional independent simulations not used in developing the index events, as well as against long-term measured monthly rainfall/runoff sets. Comparison of measured and RUSLE2-predicted monthly runoff suggested that the procedures outlined may underestimate plot-scale runoff during periods of the year with greater than average rainfall intensity, and a modification to improve predictions was developed. In order to illustrate the potential of coupling RUSLE2 with a process-based channel erosion model, the resulting set of representative storms was used as an input to the channel routines used in Chemicals, Runoff, and Erosion from Agricultural Management Systems (CREAMS) to calculate ephemeral gully erosion. The method was applied to a hypothetical 5-ha field cropped to cotton in Marshall County, MS, bisected by a potential ephemeral gully having channel slopes ranging from 0·5 to 5% and with hillslopes on both sides of the channel with 5% steepness and 22·1 m length. Results showed the representative storm sequence produced reasonable results in CREAMS indicating that ephemeral gully erosion may be of the same order of magnitude as sheet and rill erosion. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.