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Relationship of runoff, erosion and sediment yield to weather types in the Iberian Peninsula

AuthorsNadal-Romero, Estela ; Lasanta Martínez, Teodoro ; Gómez Calero, José Alfonso
Sediment yield
Spatial variability
Iberian Peninsula
Weather types
Issue Date2015
CitationGeomorphology 228: 372-381 (2015)
AbstractPrecipitation has been recognized as one of the main factors driving soil erosion and sediment yield (SY), and its spatial and temporal variability is recognized as one of the main reasons for spatial and temporal analyses of soil erosion variability. The weather types (WTs) approach classifies the continuum of atmospheric circulation into a small number of categories or types and has been proven a good indicator of the spatial and temporal variability of precipitation. Thus, the main objective of this study is to analyze the relationship between WTs, runoff, soil erosion (measured in plots), and sediment yield (measured in catchments) in different areas of the Iberian Peninsula (IP) with the aim of detecting spatial variations in these relationships. To this end, hydrological and sediment information covering the IP from several Spanish research teams has been combined, and related with daily WTs estimated by using the NMC/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. The results show that, in general, a few WTs (particularly westerly, southwesterly and cyclonic) provide the largest amounts of precipitation; and southwesterly, northwesterly and westerly WTs play an important role in runoff generation, erosion and sediment yield as they coincide with the wettest WTs. However, this study highlights the spatial variability of erosion and sediment yield in the IP according to WT, differentiating (1) areas under the influence of north and/or north-westerly flows (the north coast of Cantabria and inland central areas), (2) areas under the influence of westerly, southwesterly and cyclonic WTs (western and southwestern IP), (3) areas in which erosion and sediment yield are controlled by easterly flows (Mediterranean coastland), and (4) lastly, a transitional zone in the inland northeast Ebro catchment, where we detected a high variability in the effects of WTs on erosion. Overall results suggest that the use of WTs derived from observed atmospheric pressure patterns could be a useful tool for inclusion in future projections of the spatial variability of erosion and sediment yield, as models capture pressure fields reliably. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.09.011
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.09.011
issn: 0169-555X
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