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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall erosivity in New Zealand

Andreas Klik A C D , Kathrin Haas A , Anna Dvorackova B and Ian C. Fuller C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Water, Atmosphere and Environment, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Muthgasse 18, A-1190 Vienna, Austria.

B Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Kamýcká 129, 165 21 Praha 6, Czech Republic.

C Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

D Corresponding author. Email: andreas.klik@boku.ac.at

Soil Research 53(7) 815-825 https://doi.org/10.1071/SR14363
Submitted: 11 December 2014  Accepted: 14 March 2015   Published: 14 September 2015

Abstract

Rainfall and its kinetic energy, expressed by rainfall erosivity, drives soil erosion processes by water. One of the most commonly used erosivity parameters is the rainfall-runoff erosivity factor R of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. The goal of this study was to investigate for the first time the spatial distribution of annual rainfall erosivity in New Zealand. High-resolution data from 35 weather stations were used to calculate the R-factors. Based on these results, region-specific equations were developed and were applied by using long-term precipitation records from 597 stations. The values were interpolated with a geographic information system to generate a map showing spatial variations of rainfall erosivity. Annual R-values vary across both islands by a factor of 30, from <550 MJ mm ha–1 h–1 in parts of Central Otago to >16 000 MJ mm ha–1 h–1 in the Southern Alps. These large differences are related to climatic and topographic features. Nevertheless, the data show a high correlation to the precipitation. In most parts of New Zealand, highest erosivity values occurred in December and January, whereas the lowest values were observed in August.

Additional keywords: isoerodent map, New Zealand, rainfall erosivity, R-factor, RUSLE.


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