Momentum or kinetic energy - How do substrate properties influence the calculation of rainfall erosivity?

Philipp Goebes*, Steffen Seitz, Christian Geißler, Tamás Lassu, Piet Peters, Manuel Seeger, Karin Nadrowski, Thomas Scholten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Rainfall erosivity is a key component in soil erosion by water. While kinetic energy and momentum are used to describe the erosivity of rainfall, and both are derived from mass and velocity of raindrops, it is not clear how different substrates transform this energy. In our study we conducted rainfall simulation experiments to determine splash detachment amounts of five substrates (coarse sand, medium sand, fine sand, PE balls, silt) for seven different rainfall intensities (52-116mmh -1 ). We used linear mixed-effect modeling (LME) to calculate erosivity predictors for each substrate. Additionally, we separated drop-size-velocity relationship into lower left and upper right quarter to investigate the effect of small and slow just as big and fast raindrops on splash detachment amounts.We suggest using momentum divided by drop diameter as a substrate-independent erosivity predictor. To consider different substrates specific erosivity parameters are needed. Heavier substrates like sand are best described by kinetic energy multiplied by diameter whereas lighter substrates like silt point to momentum divided by diameter to the power of 1.5. Furthermore, our results show that substrates are differently affected by the size and velocity of drops. While splash detachment of light substances can be reliably predicted by drop size and velocity for small and slow drops, drop size and velocity loses its predictive power in heavier substrates like sand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2014


  • Kinetic energy
  • Momentum
  • Rainfall erosivity
  • Rainfall simulation
  • Splash cup

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