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Spatial and statistical trend characteristics of rainfall erosivity (R) in upper catchment of Baram River, Borneo

Vijith, H., Dodge-Wan, D.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.8 pp. 494
altitude, land degradation, monsoon season, rain, regression analysis, rivers, sediments, soil erosion, watersheds, Borneo
The upper catchment region of the Baram River in Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) is undergoing severe land degradation due to soil erosion. Heavy rainfall with high erosive power has led to a number of soil erosion hotspots. The goal of the present study is to generate an understanding about the spatial characteristics of seasonal and annual rainfall erosivity (R), which not only control sediment delivery from the region but also determine the quantity of material potentially eroded. Mean annual rainfall and rainfall erosivity range from 2170 to 5167 mm and 1632 to 5319 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹, respectively. Seasonal rainfall and rainfall erosivity range from 848 to 1872 mm and 558 to 1883 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹ for the southwest (SW) monsoon, 902 to 2200 mm and 664 to 2793 MJ mm ha⁻¹h⁻¹year⁻¹ for the northeast (NE) monsoon and 400 to 933 mm and 331 to 1075 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹ during the inter-monsoon (IM) period. Linear regression, Spearman's Rho and Mann Kendall tests were applied. Considering the regional mean rainfall erosivity in the study area, all the methods show an overall non-significant decreasing trend (− 9.34, − 0.25 and − 0.30 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹, respectively for linear regression, Spearman’s Rho and Mann Kendall tests). However, during SW monsoon and IM periods, rainfall erosivity showed a non-significant decreasing trend (− 25.45, − 0.52, − 0.40, and − 8.86, − 1.07, − 0.77 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹, respectively) whereas in NE, monsoon season erosivity showed a non-significant increasing trend (14.90, 1.59 and 1.60 MJ mm ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹, respectively). The mean erosivity density ranges from 0.77 to 1.38 MJ ha⁻¹ h⁻¹ year⁻¹ and shows decreasing trend. Spatial distribution pattern of erosivity density indicates significantly higher occurrence of erosive rainfall in the lower elevation portion of the study area. The spatial pattern of mean rainfall erosivity trends (linear, Spearman’s Rho and Mann Kendall) suggests that the study area can be divided into two zones with increasing rainfall erosivity trends in the northern zone and decreasing trends in the southern zone. These results can be used to plan conservation measures to reduce sediment delivery from localized soil erosion hotspots.