1. bookVolume 69 (2021): Issue 4 (December 2021)
Journal Details
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Defining minimum runoff length allows for discriminating biocrusts and rainfall events

Published Online: 15 Nov 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 69 (2021) - Issue 4 (December 2021)
Page range: 387 - 399
Received: 16 Jun 2021
Accepted: 13 Sep 2021
Journal Details
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

The runoff coefficient (RC) is widely used despite requiring to know the effective contributing area, which cannot be known a priori. In a previous work, we defined runoff length (RL), which is difficult to measure. This work aimed to define the minimum RL (mRL), a quantitative and easy proxy of RL, for use in a pilot study on biocrusts in the Tabernas Desert, Spain. We show that RC decreases according to a hyperbola when the contributing area increases, the independent variable being the length of the effective contributing area and its coefficient involving the effects of rainfall and surface features and antecedent conditions. We defined the mRL as the length of the effective contributing area making RC = 1, which is calculated regardless of the area. We studied mRL from three biocrust types and 1411 events clustered in seven categories. The mRL increased with rain volume and intensity, catchment area and slope, whereas plant cover and biocrust succession (with one exception) had a negative effect. Depending on the plot, mRL reached up 3.3–4.0 m on cyanobacterial biocrust, 2.2–7.5 m on the most widespread lichens, and 1.0–1.5 m on late-successional lichens. We discuss the relationships of mRL with other runoff-related parameters.


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