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Projected Rainfall Erosivity Under Climate Change in the Southeastern United States

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2022 ASABE Annual International Meeting  2200176.(doi:10.13031/aim.202200176)
Authors:   Bijoychandra S Takhellambam, Puneet Srivastava, Jasmeet Lamba, Ryan P McGehee, Hemendra Kumar, Di Tian
Keywords:   Erosivity, Climate Change, Rainfall Intensity, RCP8.5, RUSLE2, Soil Erosion.

Abstract. Climate change is expected to change erosion rates as the erosive power of rainfall will most likely change due to changes in rainfall characteristics (e.g., intensity, duration, frequency, and subsequently energy). Since erosivity is greatly affected by rainfall intensity, it is expected that rainfall erosivity will be greatly altered as well. Few studies have estimated the impact of future climate changes on rainfall erosivity across the US or around the world. Furthermore, previously published erosion indices (based on historic data) have discrepancies due to the differences in methodologies (primarily due to omission of small and low rainfall intensity) adopted by those studies. Therefore, the objective of this study was to estimate changes in erosion indices for the period 2030-2059 using the benchmark rainfall indices established for the southeastern US by a recent study. Hourly precipitation data from 2030-2059 were retrieved for five climate models from the North-American Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (NA-CORDEX)) datasets under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5. The data was then temporally downscaled and bias-corrected using the quantile-based mapping method. The temporally downscaled and bias-corrected rainfall intensity data were then used to calculate future erosivity using WEPPCLIFF v1.6 and compared to the recently established erosivity benchmark to estimate expected changes in rainfall erosivity in the future. Our results found that average annual precipitation and rainfall erosivity are projected to increase by 14% and 47% respectively. Further, the findings indicate that the Gulf-Atlantic coast and Appalachian Mountains are most likely to be affected in the region

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