Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 230:226 | Cite as

Rainfall-Runoff Simulation of Radioactive Cesium Transport by Using a Small-Scale Portable Rainfall Simulator

  • Ayman N. Saber
  • Piniti Somjunyakul
  • Junghun Ok
  • Hirozumi WatanabeEmail author


Soil pollution with radioactive cesium (134Cs and 137Cs) has been considered one of the major environmental issues of agricultural farmlands after the nuclear power station incident which occurred in Fukushima Prefecture on 11th March 2011. A small-scale portable rainfall-runoff simulator was developed to conduct the rainfall-runoff experiments in the laboratory using the radiocesium contaminated soil in Fukushima. This study describes and demonstrates the operation method and performance of a portable rainfall simulator as well as runoff, sediment discharge, radioactivity, and contaminant transport. The rainfall simulator is able to produce the rainfall intensity from 30 to 70 mm h−1 with Christiansen’s Uniformity varied from 72 to 91%. The simulated rainfall kinetic energy rates were accounted for about 45, 58, and 74% of the kinetic energy of the natural precipitation for different rainfall intensities of 30, 50, and 70 mm h−1, respectively. The applicability of a small-scale portable rainfall simulator for the rainfall impacts on runoff, soil erosion, and the transport of radioactive cesium is investigated. The total radioactive cesium (134 + 137Cs) measured in runoff sediments ranged up to 6847 Bq kg−1 and they were in the ranges that have been reported in the literature. The results revealed that the average total radioactivity average of cesium in the discharged sediments was found to be higher (up to three times) than the average rates determined in initial soil in lysimeters of all Fukushima sites before the experiment. The results have proved that a small-scale portable rainfall-runoff simulator system is a useful tool for investigating rainfall-runoff phenomena and contaminant transport in the laboratory.


Rainfall simulator Drop size distribution Kinetic energy Cesium radioactivity 



This study was partly funded by the Environmental Research Fund (ZD-1202) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan and JSPS KAKENHI Grant No. 24248058 and by the Fukushima Radiation Monitoring of Water, Soil, and Entrainment project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology in Japan.


  1. Abudi, I. G., Carmi, G., & Berliner, P. (2012). Rainfall simulator for field runoff studies. Journal of Hydrology, 76–81, 454–455.Google Scholar
  2. Agassi, M., & Bradford, J. M. (1999). Methodologies for interrill soil erosion studies. Soil & Tillage Research, 49, 277–287.Google Scholar
  3. Aksoy, H., Unal, N. E., Cokgor, S., Gedikli, A., Yoon, J., Koca, K., Inci, S. B., & Eris, E. (2012). A rainfall simulator for laboratory-scale assessment of rainfall-runoff-sediment transport processes over a two-dimensional flume. Catena, 98, 63–72.Google Scholar
  4. Battany, M. C., & Grismer, M. E. (2000). Development of a portable field rainfall simulator for use in hillside vineyard runoff and erosion studies. Hydrological Processes, 14, 1119–1129.Google Scholar
  5. Birt, L., Persyn, R., & Smith, P. (2007). Technical note: evaluation of an indoor nozzle-type rainfall simulator. Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 23, 283–287.Google Scholar
  6. Borselli, L., Torri, D., Poesen, J., & Sanchis, P. S. (2001). Effects of water quality on infiltration, runoff and interrill erosion processes during simulated rainfall. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26, 329–342.Google Scholar
  7. Boulange, J., Malhat, F., Jaikaew, J., Kazuki Nanko, K., & Watanabe, H. (2018). Portable rainfall simulator for plot-scale investigation of rainfall-runoff, and transport of sediment and pollutants. International Journal of Sediment Research, 34(1), 38–47.Google Scholar
  8. Boxel, J. V. (1998). Numerical model for the fall speed of raindrops in a rainfall simulator. I.C.E. Special Report, 1, 77–85.Google Scholar
  9. Bradford, J. M., & Huang, C. (1993). Comparison of interrill soil loss for laboratory and field procedures. Soil Technology, 6, 145–156.Google Scholar
  10. Bubenzer, G. D., & Jones, B. A. (1979). Drop size and impact velocity effects on the detachment of soils under rainfall simulation. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 14, 625–628.Google Scholar
  11. Casermeiro, M., Molina, J., de la Cruz Caravaca, M., Hernando Costa, J., Hernando Massanet, M., & Moreno, P. (2004). Influence of scrubs on runoff and sediment loss in soils of Mediterranean climate. Catena, 57, 91–107.Google Scholar
  12. Chaplot, V., & Le Bissonnais, Y. (2003). Runoff features for interrill erosion at different rainfall intensities, slope lengths, and gradients in an agricultural loess hillslope. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 67, 844–851.Google Scholar
  13. Christiansen, J. E. (1942). Irrigation by sprinkling bulletin 670. California Agricultural Experiment Station: University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  14. Clarke, M. A., & Walsh, R. P. D. (2007). A portable rainfall simulator for field assessment of splash and slope wash in remote locations. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 32, 2052–2069.Google Scholar
  15. Evrard, O., Chartin, C., Onda, Y., Lepage, H., Cerdan, O., Lefèvre, I., & Ayrault, S. (2014). Renewed soil erosion and remobilisation of radioactive sediment in Fukushima coastal rivers after the 2013 typhoons. Science Report, 4, 1–5.Google Scholar
  16. Fan, Q. H., Tanaka, M., Tanaka, K., Sakaguchi, A., & Takahashi, Y. (2014). An EXAFS study on the effects of natural organic matter and the expandability of clay minerals on cesium adsorption and mobility. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 135, 49–65.Google Scholar
  17. Fernández-Calviño, D., Pateiro-Moure, M., López-Periago, E., Arias-Estévez, M., & NóvoaMuñoz, J. C. (2008). Copper distribution and acid–base mobilization in vineyard soils and sediments from Galicia (NW Spain). European Journal of Soil Science, 59, 315–326.Google Scholar
  18. Gunn, R., & Kinzer, G. (1949). The terminal velocity of fall for water droplets in stagnant air. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 6, 243–248.Google Scholar
  19. Hamed, Y., Albergel, J., Pépin, Y., Asseline, J., Nasri, S., & Zante, P. (2002). Comparison between rainfall simulator erosion and observed reservoir sedimentation in an erosion-sensitive semiarid catchment. Catena, 50, 1–16.Google Scholar
  20. He, Q., & Walling, D. E. (1996). Interpreting particle size effects in the adsorption of 137Cs and unsupported 210Pb by mineral soils and sediments. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 30, 117–137.Google Scholar
  21. Humphry, J. B., Daniel, T. C., Edwards, D. R., & Sharpley, A. N. (2002). A portable rainfall simulator for plot-scale runoff studies. Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 18, 199–204.Google Scholar
  22. JMA. (2013). Outline of the operational numerical weather prediction at the Japan Meteorological Agency. Appendix to WMO Numerical Weather Prediction Progress Report. Japan Meteorological Agency, Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved from
  23. Kibet, L. C., Saporito, L. S., Allen, A. L., May, E. B., Kleinman, P. J., Hashem, F. M., & Bryant, R. B. (2014). A protocol for conducting rainfall simulation to study soil runoff. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 86, 1–14.Google Scholar
  24. Kim, H. J., Han, S. H., Kim, S., Yun, S. T., Jun, S. C., Oh, Y. Y., & Son, Y. (2018). Characterizing the spatial distribution of CO2 leakage from the shallow CO2 release experiment in South Korea. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 72, 152–162.Google Scholar
  25. Luk, S. H., Abrahamsb, A. D., & Parsons, A. J. (1993). Sediment sources and sediment transport by rill flow and interrill flow on a semi-arid piedmont slope, southern Arizona. Catena, 20, 93–111.Google Scholar
  26. Matsunaga, T., Koarashi, J., Atarashi-Andoh, M., Nagao, S., Sato, T., & Nagai, H. (2013). Comparison of the vertical distributions of Fukushima nuclear accident radiocesium in soil before and after the first rainy season, with physicochemical and mineralogical interpretations. Science of the Total Environment, 447, 301–314.Google Scholar
  27. Meyer, L. D., & Harmon, W. C. (1979). Multiple-intensity rainfall simulator for erosion research on row sideslopes. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 22, 100–103.Google Scholar
  28. Mouri, G., Golosov, V., Shiiba, M., & Hori, T. (2014). Assessment of the cesium-137 flux adsorbed to suspended sediment in a reservoir in the contaminated Fukushima region in Japan. Environmental Pollution, 187, 31–41.Google Scholar
  29. Müller, K., Trolove, M., James, T., & Rahman, A. (2002). Herbicide runoff studies in an arable soil under simulated rainfall. New Zealand Plant Protection, 55, 172–176.Google Scholar
  30. Parsons, A. J., & Stone, P. M. (2006). Effects of intra-storm variations in rainfall intensity on interrill runoff and erosion. Catena, 67, 68–78.Google Scholar
  31. Regmi, T. P., & Thompson, A. L. (2000). Rainfall simulator for laboratory studies. Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 16, 641–652.Google Scholar
  32. Roth, C. H., Meyer, B., & Frede, H. G. (1985). A portable rainfall simulator to study factors affecting runoff, infiltration and soil loss. Catena, 12, 79–85.Google Scholar
  33. Salles, C., Poesen, J., & Sempere-Torres, D. (2002). Kinetic energy of rain and its functional relationship with intensity. Journal of Hydrology, 257(1–4), 256–270.Google Scholar
  34. Sato, K., Kaneko, Y., Izumi, K., Nakayama, T., & Takezawa, M. (1998). Prediction of runoff and establishment of flood control system in the urban area of Tokyo. Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 19, 1743–3541.Google Scholar
  35. Schmidt, R. G. (1998). Beobachtung, Messung und Kartierung der Wassererosion. In G. Richter (Ed.), Bodenerosion—analyse und Bilanz eines Umweltproblems (pp. 110–121). Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchges.Google Scholar
  36. Takahashi, T., Sutherland, S. C., Sweeney, C., Poisson, A., Metzl, N., Tillbrook, B., Bates, N., Wanninkhof, R., Feely, R. A., Sabine, C. L., Olafsson, J., & Nojiri, Y. (2002). Global sea-air CO2 flux based on climatological surface ocean pCO2, and seasonal biological and temperature effects. Deep-Sea Research Part II, 49, 1601–1622.Google Scholar
  37. Teramage, M., Onda, Y., Kato, H., Wakiyama, Y., Mizugaki, S., & Hiramatsu, S. (2013). The relationship of soil organic carbon to Pb-210 (ex) and Cs-137 during surface soil erosion in a hillslope forested environment. Geoderma, 192, 59–67.Google Scholar
  38. Thai, P. K., Suka, Y., Sakai, M., Nanko, K., Yen, J. H., & Watanabe, H. (2015). Export of radioactive cesium from agricultural fields under simulated rainfall in Fukushima. Environmental Science Process Impacts, 17(6), 1157–1163.Google Scholar
  39. Tsuji, H., Yasutaka, T., Kawabe, Y., Onishi, T., & Komai, T. (2014). Distribution of dissolved and particulate radiocesium concentrations along rivers and the relations between radiocesium concentration and deposition after the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima. Water Research, 60, 15–27.Google Scholar
  40. Ulrich, U., Dietrich, A., & Fohrer, N. (2013). Herbicide transport via surface runoff during intermittent artificial rainfall: a laboratory plot scale study. Catena, 101, 38–49.Google Scholar
  41. Van Dijk, A. I. J. M., Bruijnzeel, L. A., & Rosewell, C. J. (2002). Rainfall intensity–kinetic energy relationships: a critical literature appraisal. Journal of Hydrology, 261(1–4), 1–23.Google Scholar
  42. Wainwright, J., Parsons, A. J., & Abrahams, A. D. (2000). Plot-scale studies of vegetation, overland flow and erosion interaction: case studies from Arizona and New Mexico. Hydrol. Proc., 14, 2921–2943.Google Scholar
  43. Yadav, I. C., & Watanabe, H. (2018). Soil erosion and transport of Imidacloprid and Clothianidin in the upland field under simulated rainfall condition. Science of the Total Environment, 640–641, 1354–1364.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayman N. Saber
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Piniti Somjunyakul
    • 1
  • Junghun Ok
    • 1
  • Hirozumi Watanabe
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of International, Environmental and Agricultural Sciences, Graduate of School of AgricultureTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Pesticide Residues and Environmental Pollution, Central Agricultural Pesticide LaboratoryAgriculture Research CenterGizaEgypt
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Aquatic Chemistry, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations