Rainfall irregularity and its impact on the sediment yield in Wadi Sebdou watershed, Algeria

  • Abdesselam Megnounif
  • Abderrahmane Nekkache Ghenim
Original Paper


The impact of changes in rainfall can be studied by means of the sediment transport in the rivers. The link between rainfall irregularity and sediment rating parameters was investigated in the Wadi Sebdou watershed of 256 km2 located in northwest Algeria. The data set includes rainfall records and cover the period from September 1939 to August 2009. Hydrometric records consist of instantaneous measurements flow discharge, Q, and suspended sediment concentration, C, based on a monitoring program from September 1973 to August 2003. In neighboring gauging stations, the periods of record were either short or discontinuous and may not be representative to assess the potential causes of the suspended-sediment changes. The time evolution of sediment rating parameters was used to improve understanding of the interaction between sediment delivery supplied from internal and external sources to the wadi channel. Our findings indicate that the rating parameters varied by many orders of magnitude, suggesting significant temporal change in both potential of sediment yield and sediment sources. High b-parameter (≅1.12) and low a-parameter values (≅0.018) were observed during the time interval of change from wet to dry period occurred in the mid of 1970s. The growth of vegetation and the well-developed organic soil horizons have reduced runoff and prevented particle detachment and transport. So, the functioning of sediment sources external to the channel was comparable to that of temperate regions. After that transition, the prolonged dryness has led to a higher risk of desertification and critical soil erosion. Therefore, the functioning of sediment sources external to the wadi-flow becomes similar to that observed in arid river systems, while the fluctuation of sediment contribution supplied from hydrographic network suggests a watershed functioning as semi-arid streams. The watershed ability to sediment yield was high toward the mid of the dry period and sediment delivery supplied from sources both internal and external to the wadi channel was copious suggesting a large amount of stored sediment at the beginning of a runoff season and an increased transport capacity of the river.


Sediment load Sediment rating curve Semiarid Water discharge Wadi Sebdou Algeria 



The authors thank the National Agency of Hydrologic Resources [ANRH], the Algerian agency in charge of stream gauging, which provided all water flows and sediment concentrations data. They also thank anonymous reviewers and the associate editor for their comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdesselam Megnounif
    • 1
  • Abderrahmane Nekkache Ghenim
    • 1
  1. 1.“Eau et Ouvrage dans Leur Environnement” LaboratoryTlemcen UniversityTlemcenAlgeria

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