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Hydrology 2016, 3(4), 39; doi:10.3390/hydrology3040039

Rainfall Simulator Experiments to Investigate Macropore Impacts on Hillslope Hydrological Response

1
Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.115, 3508 TC, The Netherlands
2
Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
3
Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Thomas Iserloh, Artemi Cerdà, Wolfgang Fister and Saskia Keesstra
Received: 10 June 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 28 October 2016 / Published: 15 November 2016
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Abstract

Understanding hillslope runoff response to intense rainfall is an important topic in hydrology, and is key to correct prediction of extreme stream flow, erosion and landslides. Although it is known that preferential flow processes activated by macropores are an important phenomena in understanding runoff processes inside a hillslope, hydrological models have generally not embraced the concept of an extra parameter that represents ‘macropores’ because of the complexity of the phenomenon. Therefore, it is relevant to investigate the influence of macropores on runoff processes in an experimental small artificial hillslope. Here, we report on a controlled experiment where we could isolate the influence of macropores without the need for assumptions regarding their characteristics. Two identical hillslopes were designed, of which one was filled with artificial macropores. Twelve artificial rainfall events were applied to the two hillslopes and results of drainage and soil moisture were investigated. After the experiments, it could be concluded that the influence of macropores on runoff processes was minimal. The S90 sand used for this research caused runoff to respond fast to rainfall, leading to little or no development of saturation near the macropores. In addition, soil moisture data showed a large amount of pendular water in the hillslopes, which implies that the soil has a low air entry value, and, in combination with the lack of vertical flow, could have caused the pressure difference between the matrix and the macropores to vanish sooner and result in equilibrium being reached in a relatively short time. Nevertheless, a better outline is given to determine a correct sand type for these types of experiments and, by using drainage recession analysis to investigate the influences of macropores on runoff, heterogeneity in rainfall intensity can be overcome. This study is a good point of reference to start future experiments from concerning macropores and hillslope hydrology. View Full-Text
Keywords: hillslope hydrology; macropores; preferential flow; rainfall simulator experiments; soil column experiments hillslope hydrology; macropores; preferential flow; rainfall simulator experiments; soil column experiments
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Smit, Y.; van der Ploeg, M.J.; Teuling, A.J. Rainfall Simulator Experiments to Investigate Macropore Impacts on Hillslope Hydrological Response. Hydrology 2016, 3, 39.

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