Natural Hazards

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 35–56 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal mapping of rainfall erosivity index for different return periods in Iran

  • Seyed Hamidreza SadeghiEmail author
  • Mohsen Zabihi
  • Mehdi Vafakhah
  • Zeinab Hazbavi
Original Paper


Analysis of event-based soil erosion magnitude with special return periods is essential to appropriately design strategies and adopt soil conservation practices. However, the spatiotemporal variations of soil erosion with different return periods, especially at national level, have not been adequately considered. Therefore, the present study aimed to zone rainfall erosivity index (R factor) as the most dynamic factor affecting variability of soil erosion rate, with different return periods in monthly, seasonal and annual time scales in Iran. Toward this attempt, the kinetic energy and maximum 30-min intensity (I 30) over 12,000 available and accessible events of 70 stations were calculated during the common period of 1984–2004 and the corresponding R factor of the Universal Soil Loss Equation was then computed. Subsequently, the best-fitted frequency distributions were determined in all stations in three time scales using the EasyFit Software. The R factor was accordingly estimated for 2-, 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-year return periods. In addition, the inverse distance weighting technique was employed to determine and analyze the spatial variability patterns of R factor in different time scales using geographic information system. The results indicated that the frequency distributions fitted to study data were different in study time scales due to variability of spatiotemporal patterns of R factor. In addition, no specific spatial pattern of R factor could be recognized for different return periods and time scales. The average annual R factor was also found 1.41 MJ mm ha−1 h−1, whereas the respective R factor for different respective return periods of 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 years was obtained 1.47, 2.62, 3.35, 4.48 and 5.54 MJ mm ha−1 h−1. These findings can be used for suitable decision making and effective environmental planning for land management Iran countrywide.


Design erosivity index Occurrence probability Soil erosion mapping Spatial and temporal analysis Wischmeier and Smith erosivity index 


  1. Angulo-Martínez M, Beguería S (2009) Estimating rainfall erosivity from daily precipitation records: a comparison among methods using data from the Ebro Basin (NE Spain). J Hydrol 379:111–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballabio C, Borrelli P, Spinoni J, Meusburger K, Michaelides S, Beguería S, Klik A, Petan S, Janeček M, Olsen P, Aalto J, Lakatos M, Rymszewicz A, Dumitrescu A, Tadić MP, Diodato N, Kostalova J, Rousseva S, Banasik K, Alewell C, Panagos P (2017) Mapping monthly rainfall erosivity in Europe. Sci Total Environ 579:1298–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banasik K, Gorski D (1993) Evaluation of rainfall erosivity for east Poland. In: Proceedings international symposium on runoff and sediment yield modelling, Eds.: Banasik K., Zbikowski A. Warsaw, Poland; Sep. 14-16, 1993, Warsaw Agr Univ, p:129-134Google Scholar
  4. Borrelli P, Märker M, Schütt B (2015) Modelling post-tree-harvesting soil erosion and sediment deposition potential in the Turano River Basin (Italian Central Apennine). Land Degrad Dev 26(4):356–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borrough PA, McDonnell RA (1998) Principles of geographical information systems. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  6. Cerda A (1998) Relationships between climate and soil hydrological and erosional characteristics along climatic gradients in Mediterranean limestone areas. Geomorphology 25(1):123–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davudirad AA, Sadeghi SHR, Sadoddin A (2016) The Impact of development plans on hydrological changes in the Shazand Watershed Iran. Land Degrad Dev 27:1236–1244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diodato N, Verstraeten G, Bellocchi G (2014) Decadal modelling of rainfall erosivity in Belgium. Land Degrad Dev 25(6):511–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diodato N, Borrelli P, Fiener P, Bellocchi G, Romano N (2017) Discovering historical rainfall erosivity with a parsimonious approach: a case study in Western Germany. J Hydrol 544:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duan X, Gu Z, Li Y, Xu H (2016) The spatiotemporal patterns of rainfall erosivity in Yunnan Province, southwest China: an analysis of empirical orthogonal functions. Glob Planet Change 144:82–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eltaif NI, Gharaibeh MA, Al-Zaitawi F, Alhamad MN (2010) Approximation of rainfall erosivity factors in North Jordan. Pedosphere 20:711–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ferro V, Giordano G, Iovino M (1991) Isoerosivity and erosion risk map for Sicily. J Hydrol Sci 36(6):549–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer F, Hauck J, Brandhuber R, Weigl E, Maier H, Auerswald K (2016) Spatio-temporal variability of erosivity estimated from highly resolved and adjusted radar rain data (RADOLAN). Agric For Meteorol 223:72–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Foster GR, McCool DK, Renard KG, Moldenhauer WC (1981) Conversion of the universal soil loss equation to SI metric units. J Soil Water Conserv 36(6):355–359Google Scholar
  15. Gessesse B, Bewket W, Bräuning A (2015) Model-based characterization and monitoring of runoff and soil erosion in response to land use/land cover changes in the Modjo watershed Ethiopia. Land Degrad Dev 26(7):711–724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gonzalez-Hidalgo JC, Batalla RJ, Cerda A, de Luis M (2012) A regional analysis of the effects of largest events on soil erosion. Catena 95:85–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hakimkhani Sh, Mahdian MH, Arabkhedri M, GhorbanPour D (2005) Evaluation of rain erosivity in the country. In: Third national conference on erosion and sedimentation, Tehran, pp 281–288Google Scholar
  18. Hazbavi Z, Sadeghi SHR (2015) Potential effects of vinasse as a soil amendment to control runoff and soil loss. Soil 2:767–791Google Scholar
  19. Hoyos N, Waylen PR, Jaramillo A (2005) Seasonal and spatial patterns of erosivity in a tropical watershed of the Colombian Andes. J Hydrol 314:177–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huang J, Zhang J, Zhang Z, Xu CY (2013) Spatial and temporal variations in rainfall erosivity during 1960–2005 in the Yangtze River basin. Stoch Environ Res Risk Assess 27(2):337–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kavian A, Fathollah Nejad Y, Habibnejad M, Soleimani K (2011) Modeling seasonal rainfall erosivity on a regional scale: a case study from Northeastern Iran. Int J Environ Res 5:939–950Google Scholar
  22. Lai C, Chen X, Wang Z, Wu X, Zhao S, Wu X, Bai W (2016) Spatio-temporal variation in rainfall erosivity during 1960–2012 in the Pearl River Basin, China. Catena 137:382–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee JH, Jung Y, Heo JH (2011) Spatial analysis of rainfall erosivity trends in South Korea. World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, Palm Springs, California, pp 4469–4476Google Scholar
  24. Ligonja PJ, Shrestha RP (2015) Soil erosion assessment in Kondoa eroded area in Tanzania using Universal Soil Loss Equation, geographic information systems and socioeconomic approach. Land Degrad Dev 26(4):367–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ma L, Chi X, Zuo C (2012) Evaluation of interpolation models for rainfall erosivity on a large scale. In: First international conference on agro-geoinformatics, Shanghai, pp 1–5Google Scholar
  26. Martins SG, Avanzi JC, Silva MLN, Curi N, Norton LD, Fonseca S (2010) Rainfall erosivity and rainfall return period in the experimental watershed of Aracruz, in the coastal plain of Espirito Santo, Brazil. Rev Bras Ciênc Solo 34:999–1004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mello CR, Viola MR, Beskow S, Norton LD (2013) Multivariate models for annual rainfall erosivity in Brazil. Geoderma 202–203:88–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Meusburger K, Steel A, Panagos P, Montanarella L, Alewell C (2012) Spatial and temporal variability of rainfall erosivity factor for Switzerland. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 16:167–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mikos M, Jost D, Petkovsek G (2006) Rainfall and runoff erosivity in the alpine climate of north Slovenia: a comparison of different estimation methods. Hydrol Sci J 51:115–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Millward AA, Mersey JE (1999) Adapting the RUSLE to model soil erosion potential in a mountainous tropical watershed. Catena 38:109–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Modarres R, Silva VPR (2007) Rainfall trends in arid and semi-arid regions of Iran. J Arid Environ 70:344–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mokhtarzadeh M (1989) Determining Wischmeier and Smith Erosivity Index in Iran. M.Sc. Thesis, Tarbiat Modares University (TMU), IranGoogle Scholar
  33. Mondal A, Khare D, Kundu S (2016) Change in rainfall erosivity in the past and future due to climate change in the central part of India. Int Soil Water Conserv Res 4(3):186–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nanko K, Giambelluca TW, Sutherland RA, Mudd RG, Nullet MA, Ziegler AD (2015) Erosion potential under miconia calvescens stands on the Island of Hawaii. Land Degrad Dev 26(3):218–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nanko K, Moskalski SM, Torres R (2016) Rainfall erosivity–intensity relationships for normal rainfall events and a tropical cyclone on the US southeast coast. J Hydrol 534:440–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nikkami D, Mahdian MH (2015) Rainfall erosivity mapping in Iran. J Watershed Eng Manag 6(4):364–376 (In Persian) Google Scholar
  37. Nourzadeh MH (2013) Investigating the rainfall erosivity index using geostatistics. Int J Agron Plant Prod 4(11):2816–2821Google Scholar
  38. Nunes AN, Lourenço L, Vieira A, Bento Gonçalves A (2014) Precipitation and erosivity in southern Portugal: seasonal variability and trends (1950–2008). Land Degrad Dev 27:211–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Oliveira PTS, Rodrigues DBB, Sobrinho TA, Carvalho DF, Panachuki EP (2012) Spatial variability of the rainfall erosive potential in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Eng Agrícola 32:69–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Panagos P, Ballabio C, Borrelli P, Meusburger K (2016a) Spatio-temporal analysis of rainfall erosivity and erosivity density in Greece. Catena 137:161–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Panagos P, Borrelli P, Spinoni J, Ballabio C, Meusburger K, Begueria S, Klik A, Michaelides S, Petan S, Hrabalikova M, Olsen P, Aalto J, Lakatos M, Rymszewicz A, Dumitrescu A, Percec Tadic M, Diodato N, Kostalova Julia, Rousseva S, Banasik K, Alewell C (2016b) Monthly rainfall erosivity: conversion factors for different time resolutions and regional assessments. Water 8(119):1–18. doi: 10.3390/w8040119 Google Scholar
  42. Qin W, Guo Q, Zuo C, Shan Z, Ma L, Sun G (2016) Spatial distribution and temporal trends of rainfall erosivity in mainland China for 1951–2010. Catena 147:177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ramos MC, Durán B (2014) Assessment of rainfall erosivity and its spatial and temporal variabilities: case study of the Penedès area (NE Spain). Catena 123:135–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sadeghi, SHR (2000) Some aspects of spatial and temporal distribution and development of prediction models of watershed sediment yield. Ph.D. thesis, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  45. Sadeghi SHR, Hazbavi Z (2015) Trend analysis of the rainfall erosivity index at different time scales in Iran. Nat Hazard 77:383–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sadeghi SHR, Tavangar S (2015) Development of stational models for estimation of rainfall erosivity factor in different timescales. Nat Hazard 77:429–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sadeghi SHR, Moatamednia M, Behzadfar M (2011) Spatial and temporal variations in the rainfall erosivity factor in Iran. J Agric Sci Tech 13:451–464Google Scholar
  48. Sadeghi SHR, Hazbavi Z, Kiani Harchegani M (2016a) Controlling of runoff and soil loss from small plots treated by vinasse-produced biochar. Sci Total Environ 15:483–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sadeghi SHR, Hazbavi Z, Younesi H, Bahramifar N (2016b) Trade-off between runoff and sediments from treated erosion plots and polyacrylamide and acrylamide residues. Catena 142:213–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sadeghifard D, Jabbari E, Ghiasian H (2004) Zonation of rainfall erosivity index. In: First national congress on civil engineering (NCCE), Sharif University of Technology, pp 1–8. (in Persian)Google Scholar
  51. Sanchez-Moreno JF, Mannaerts CM, Jetten V (2014) Rainfall erosivity mapping for Santiago Island, Cape Verde. Geoderma 217–218:74–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Santosa PB, Mitani Y, Ikemi H (2010) Estimation of RUSLE EI 30 based on 10 min interval rainfall data and GIS-based development of rainfall erosivity maps for Hitotsuse basin in Kyushu Japan. In: 18th international conference on geoinformatics, Beijing, pp 1–6Google Scholar
  53. Shamshad A, Azhari MN, Isa MH, Wan Hussin WMA, Parida BP (2008) Development of an appropriate procedure for estimation of RUSLE EI30 index and preparation of erosivity maps for Pulau Penang in Peninsular Malaysia. Catena 72:423–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Taguas EV, Peña A, Ayuso JL, Pérez R, Yuan Y, Giráldez JV (2010) Rainfall variability and hydrological and erosive response of an olive tree microcatchment under no-tillage with a spontaneous grass cover in Spain. Earth Surf Proc Land 35(7):750–760Google Scholar
  55. Wischmeier WH, Smith DD (1958) Rainfall energy and its relationship to soil loss. Trans Am Geophys Union 39:285–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wischmeier WH, Smith DD (1965) Predicting rainfall-erosion losses from cropland east of the rocky mountains: guide for selection of practices for soil and water conservation. Agricultural Handbooks, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  57. Wischmeier WH, Smith DD (1978) Predicting rainfall erosion losses: a guide to conservation planning. US Department of Agriculture, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  58. Xiao L, Yang X, Chen S, Cai H (2015) An assessment of erosivity distribution and its influence on the effectiveness of land use conversion for reducing soil erosion in Jiangxi, China. Catena 125:50–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Xie Y, Yin S, Liu B, Nearing MA, Zhao Y (2016) Models for estimating daily rainfall erosivity in China. J Hydrol 535:547–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Xin Z, Yu X, Li Q, Lu XX (2011) Spatiotemporal variation in rainfall erosivity on the Chinese Loess Plateau during the period 1956–2008. Reg Environ Change 11(1):149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhang P, Wang G, Tian L, Zhang YL (2014) Spatiotemporal distribution of rainfall erosivity in the Bailong River basin, Gansu Province. Adv Mater Res 936:2377–2382CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seyed Hamidreza Sadeghi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohsen Zabihi
    • 1
  • Mehdi Vafakhah
    • 1
  • Zeinab Hazbavi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Watershed Management Engineering, Faculty of Natural ResourcesTarbiat Modares University (TMU)NoorIran

Personalised recommendations