Towards large-scale monitoring of soil erosion in Africa: Accounting for the dynamics of rainfall erosivity uri icon

abstract

  • Soil erosion by water occurs on sloped terrain when erosive rainfall and consequent surface runoff act on soils that are not well-protected by vegetation or other soil protective measures. Both rainfall erosivity and vegetation cover are highly variable through space and time. Joint accounting for the variability of these factors is required to effectively map and monitor soil erosion. However, most studies merely use average annual erosivity values, partly due to data paucity. This study analyses the variability of rainfall erosivity across Africa through the use of 3-hourly TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) precipitation data. We obtained average annual erosivity estimates from 15 yr of TMPA data (1998-2012) using intensity-erosivity relationships. Our estimates showed a positive correlation (r = 0.84) with long-term annual erosivity values of 37 stations obtained from literature. Our TMPA-analysis confirmed and mapped the large interannual variability, with maximum annual erosivity often exceeding two to three times the mean value, especially in semi-arid areas. Seasonal variability of erosivity was investigated from TMPA-based average monthly erosivity estimates, which resulted in similar seasonal patterns as those reported in literature. We conclude that (1) spatial and temporal variability of erosivity is important and needs to be accounted for in combination with vegetation cover when monitoring soil erosion; and (2) 3-hourly TMPA data allow for a good first estimate of the variability of erosivity in Africa, which could be improved by upcoming techniques that provide more accurate rainfall information at higher spatial and temporal resolutions. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2014
  • 2014