Measurement uncertainty in rainfall kinetic energy and intensity relationships for soil erosion studies: An evaluation using PARSIVEL disdrometers in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

M. Angulo-Martínez, A. P. Barros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The increased use of observations of rainfall microphysics from disdrometers to produce more accurate rainfall kinetic energy estimates requires closer analysis of measurement uncertainty, and in particular how the type of sensor influences rainfall kinetic energy estimates in different hydrometeorological regimes. This study evaluates the performance of Parsivel1 (P1) and Parsivel2 (P2) in measuring rainfall DSDs (drop size distributions) in terms of rain depth (P), rain rate (I), and kinetic energy (KE) at three locations in the Southern Appalachian Mountains for warm season rainfall. For the same storm system, there is large spatial variability of rainfall DSDs between ridges and valleys, and between exposed upwind ridges and the inner region. Parsivel1 measures underestimate the number of small drops, while all rainfall variables are overestimated for DSDs with a large number of drops in the midsize range (1-2mm in diameter) for both P1 and P2. Overall, results show differences of 40% in KE estimates when P1 is used compared with the more recent P2. The uncertainty analysis clearly illustrates the dependence on hydrometeorological regime and the instrument proper. Relationships between rainfall KE and intensity (I) need to account for the instrumental influence towards better characterization of the rainfall erosion potential locally; and regional scale studies must include spatially distributed observations to capture the dominant hydrometeorological regimes, especially in regions of complex topography where the spatial variability of rainfall is very high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalGeomorphology
Volume228
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Disdrometer
  • Erosivity
  • Kinetic energy
  • Parsivel
  • Rainfall
  • Soil erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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