Rainfall, runoff and sediment transport in a Mediterranean mountainous catchment
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The relation between rainfall, runoff, erosion and sediment transport is highly variable in Mediterranean catchments. Their relation can be modified by land use changes and climate oscillations that, ultimately, will control water and sediment yields. This paper analyses rainfall, runoff and sediment transport relations in a meso-scale Mediterranean mountain catchment, the Ribera Salada (NE Iberian Peninsula). A total of 73 floods recorded between November 2005 and November 2008 at the Inglabaga Sediment Transport Station (114.5 km2) have been analysed. Suspended sediment transport and flow discharge were measured continuously. Rainfall data was obtained by means of direct rain gauges and daily rainfall reconstructions from radar information. Results indicate that the annual sediment yield (2.3 t km− 1 y− 1 on average) and the flood-based runoff coefficients (4.1% on average) are low. The Ribera Salada presents a low geomorphological and hydrological activity compared with other Mediterranean mountain catchments. Pearson correlations between rainfall, runoff and sediment transport variables were obtained. The hydrological response of the catchment is controlled by the base flows. The magnitude of suspended sediment concentrations is largely correlated with flood magnitude, while sediment load is correlated with the amount of direct runoff. Multivariate analysis shows that total suspended load can be predicted by integrating rainfall and runoff variables. The total direct runoff is the variable with more weight in the equation. Finally, three main hydro-sedimentary phases within the hydrological year are defined in this catchment: (a) Winter, where the catchment produces only water and very little sediment; (b) Spring, where the majority of water and sediment is produced; and (c) Summer–Autumn, when little runoff is produced but significant amount of sediments is exported out of the catchment. Results show as land use and climate change may have an important role in modifying the cycles of water and sediment yields in Mediterranean mountain catchments.
Is part ofScience of the Total Environment. 2016, vol. 540, p. 114-132
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