Rainfall erosivity exhibits a high spatiotemporal variability. Rain gauges are not capable of detecting small-scale erosive rainfall events comprehensively. Nonetheless, many operational instruments for assessing soil erosion risk, such as the erosion atlas used in the state of Hesse in Germany, are still based on spatially interpolated rain gauge data and regression equations derived in the 1980s to estimate rainfall erosivity. Radar-based quantitative precipitation estimates with high spatiotemporal resolution are capable of mapping erosive rainfall comprehensively. In this study, radar climatology data with a spatiotemporal resolution of 1 km2
and 5 min are used alongside rain gauge data to compare erosivity estimation methods used in erosion control practice. The aim is to assess the impacts of methodology, climate change and input data resolution, quality and spatial extent on the R-factor of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE). Our results clearly show that R-factors have increased significantly due to climate change and that current R-factor maps need to be updated by using more recent and spatially distributed rainfall data. Radar climatology data show a high potential to improve rainfall erosivity estimations, but uncertainties regarding data quality and a need for further research on data correction approaches are becoming evident.
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