Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 9474–9484 | Cite as

The effects of rainfall regimes and terracing on runoff and erosion in the Three Gorges area, China

  • Qin-xue Xu
  • Pan Wu
  • Jun-feng Dai
  • Tian-wei Wang
  • Zhao-xia Li
  • Chong-fa Cai
  • Zhi-hua Shi
Research Article


Changes in natural rainfall regimes have taken place and are expected to become more pronounced in future decades. These changes are also likely to be accompanied by changes in crop management practices. The main purpose of this study was to analyze runoff and soil loss in relation to rainfall regimes and terracing in the Three Gorges area, China. Based on 10 years of field observation and k-mean clusters, 101 rainfall events were grouped into three rainfall regimes. Rainfall regime I was the group of events with strong rainfall intensity, high frequency, and short duration. Rainfall regime III consisted of events with low intensity, long duration, and high rainfall amount. Rainfall regime II was the aggregation of events of high intensity and amount, and less frequent occurrence. The results showed that event runoff coefficients were not significantly different among rainfall regimes. However, the average soil erosion rates in rainfall regimes I and II were significantly higher than that in regime III. The average erosion rates under rainfall regimes I, II, and III were 21.6, 39.7, and 9.8 g m−2, respectively. The effect of rainfall regime on soil erosion also was changed by terracing. On unterraced cropland, soil erosion rate in rainfall regime I is significantly higher than that in regime III. However, the situation did not exist in unterraced orchard. Terracing significantly reduced runoff and soil erosion, and compensated the effects of rainfall regime on soil erosion, which indicated that runoff and erosion in terraced system may be little influenced by climate change. Based on these results, it was suggested more attention should be paid to the timing of rainfall events in relation to crop development and the high erosion on unterraced citrus orchard to control soil erosion in this area.


Rainfall regime Terracing Runoff Soil erosion Citrus orchard Three Gorges area 


Funding information

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41571266, No. 51769005, and No. 51569007).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Collaborative Innovation Center for Water Pollution Control and Water Safety in Karst Area Guilin University of TechnologyGuilinChina
  2. 2.Key Lab of Subtropical Agriculture and Environment of Ministry of AgricultureHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution Control Theory and Guilin University of TechnologyGuilinChina
  4. 4.College of Resources and EnvironmentHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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