European small portable rainfall simulators : A comparison of rainfall characteristics

Iserloh, T.; Ries, J.B.; Arnáez, J.; Boix-Fayos, C.; Butzen, V.; Cerdà, A.; Echeverría, M.T.; Fernández-Gálvez, J.; Fister, W.; Geißler, C.; Gómez, J.A.; Gómez-Macpherson, H.; Kuhn, N.J.; Lázaro, R.; León, F.J.; Martínez-Mena, M.; Martínez-Murillo, J.F.; Marzen, M.; Mingorance, M.D.; Ortigosa, L.; Peters, P.; Regüés, D.; Ruiz-Sinoga, J.D.; Scholten, T.; Seeger, M.; Solé-Benet, A.; Wengel, R.; Wirtz, S.


Small-scale portable rainfall simulators are an essential research tool for investigating the process dynamics of soil erosion and surface hydrology. There is no standardisation of rainfall simulation and such rainfall simulators differ in design, rainfall intensities, rain spectra and research questions, which impede drawing a meaningful comparison between results. Nevertheless, these data become progressively important for soil erosion assessment and therefore, the basis for decision-makers in application-oriented erosion protection.The artificially generated rainfall of the simulators used at the Universities Basel, La Rioja, Malaga, Trier, Tübingen, Valencia, Wageningen, Zaragoza, and at different CSIC (Spanish Scientific Research Council) institutes (Almeria, Cordoba, Granada, Murcia and Zaragoza) was measured with the same methods (Laser Precipitation Monitor for drop spectra and rain collectors for spatial distribution). Data are very beneficial for improvements of simulators and comparison of simulators and results. Furthermore, they can be used for comparative studies, e.g. with measured natural rainfall spectra. A broad range of rainfall data was measured (e.g. intensity: 37-360mmh-1; Christiansen Coefficient for spatial rainfall distribution: 61-98%; median volumetric drop diameter: 0.375-6.5mm; mean kinetic energy expenditure: 25-1322Jm-2h-1; mean kinetic energy per unit area and unit depth of rainfall: 0.77-50Jm-2mm-1). Similarities among the simulators could be found e.g. concerning drop size distributions (maximum drop numbers are reached within the smallest drop classes <1mm) and low fall velocities of bigger drops due to a general physical restriction. The comparison represents a good data-base for improvements and provides a consistent picture of the different parameters of the simulators that were tested.