Shift from transport limited to supply limited sediment concentrations with the progression of monsoon rains in the Upper Blue Nile Basin

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Abstract

Long-term erosion monitoring data in the Ethiopian highlands are only available from the Soil Conservation Research Program (SCRP) watersheds including the Anjeni watershed. The 113 ha Anjeni watershed was established in 1984 and fanya juu terraces were installed in 1986. Runoff and erosion data are available from three different plot sizes and at the watershed outlet. The objective of this study was to investigate how erosion processes and sediment rating parameters vary with plot size and the progression of the rainy monsoon phase. We analyzed runoff and sediment loss data from 40 plots and the watershed outlet. The dataset included erosion data from 24 newly constructed plots (3 m length) during the rainy monsoon phase of 2012 and 2013, and 16 long-term plots (with 12, 16, 22, and 24% slopes and 3, 15 and 30 m lengths) and the watershed outlet during the period between 1986 to 1990. Sediment concentration (C) was fitted to runoff (Q) using a power regression equation (C = aQb). Sediment concentration and yield increased with increasing plot length from 3 m to 15 m, but sediment yield decreased as plot length increased to 30 m.The coefficients (a and b) were affected by plot size and the progression of the rainy monsoon phase. As plot size increases, the a value increased, while the b value decreased. Greater a values were observed during the beginning of the monsoon phase, while values of b were greater towards the end of the monsoon phase. Overall findings suggest that erosion from cultivated fields is primarily controlled by transport limitations at the beginning of the monsoon phase, while towards the end of the monsoon phase, as surface covers emerge, sediment availability will be reduced, and thus sediment source would be a limitation. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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