Modification of the RUSLE slope length and steepness factor (LS-factor) based on rainfall experiments at steep alpine grasslands

Schmidt, Simon and Tresch, Simon and Meusburger, Katrin. (2019) Modification of the RUSLE slope length and steepness factor (LS-factor) based on rainfall experiments at steep alpine grasslands. MethodsX, 6. pp. 219-229.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/69054/

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The slope length and slope steepness factor (LS-factor) is one of five factors of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and its revised version (RUSLE) describing the influence of topography on soil erosion risk. The LS-factor was originally developed for slopes less than 50% inclination and has not been tested for steeper slopes. To overcome this limitation, we adapted both factors slope length L and slope steepness S for conditions experimentally observed at Swiss alpine grasslands. For the new L-factor (L alpine ), a maximal flow path threshold, corresponding to 100 m, was implemented to take into account short runoff flow paths and rapid infiltration that has been observed in our experiments. For the S-factor, a fitted quadratic polynomial function (S alpine ) has been established, compiling the most extensive empirical studies. As a model evaluation, uncertainty intervals are presented for this modified S-factor. We observed that uncertainty increases with slope gradient. In summary, the proposed modification of the LS-factor to alpine environments enables an improved prediction of soil erosion risk including steep slopes. - Empirical experiments (rainfall simulation, sediment measurements) were conducted on Swiss alpine grasslands to assess the maximal flow length and slope steepness factor (S-factor). - Flow accumulation is limited to a maximal flow threshold (100 m) at which overland runoff is realistic in alpine grassland. - Slope steepness factor is modified by a fitted S-factor equation from existing empirical S-factor functions.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Schmidt, Simon
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:07 Aug 2020 13:05
Deposited On:01 Mar 2019 14:51

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