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Article (Scientific journals)
Sediment dynamics and the role of flash floods in sediment export from medium-sized catchments: A case study from the semi-arid tropical highlands in northern Ethiopia
Vanmaercke, Matthias  ; Zenebe, A.; Poesen, J. et al.
2010 • In Journal of Soils and Sediments, 10 (4), p. 611-627
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Keywords :
Catchment; Flash floods; Hysteresis; Sediment yield; Soil conservation; Suspended sediments; Ethiopia
Abstract :
[en] Purpose The Ethiopian highlands are a fragile environment characterized by steep slopes, intense rainfall, a sparse vegetation cover, and the occurrence of flash floods. Although important efforts have been made to mitigate the ongoing soil erosion and land degradation problems, the sediment dynamics at medium-sized catchment scale (100-10,000 km2) are not fully understood. Therefore, this study aims to provide a better understanding of sediment export processes and the importance of flash flood events in semi-arid tropical catchments. Materials and methods Measuring campaigns were con ducted in ten sub-catchments of the Geba, a tributary of the Tekeze, representative of the northern Ethiopian highlands. During two to four rainy seasons, the rivers were sampled for their suspended sediment concentration (SSC) and runoff discharge. Results and discussion Variations in SSC and sediment grain size distribution indicate changes in sediment supply during the rainy season due to the depletion of readily available sediments and the development of a vegetation cover. Also, during flood events, changes in sediment supply are observed. Sediment yields (i.e., 497-6,543 t km-2 year-1) are higher than suggested by previous studies and correlate with rainfall depth. The majority of sediment export occurs during a few short but intense flash floods. No clear effect of implemented soil and water conservation measures could be detected in the sediment yields of the catchments. Conclusions Sediment export rates in the Ethiopian high-lands are high, are characterized by important changes in sediment supply, and are mainly controlled by the occurrence and magnitude of flash flood events. Mitigation measures to reduce sediment yield at the catchment scale should therefore not only focus on the reduction of hillslope erosion rates but also on the magnitude of these foods. © Springer-Verlag 2010.
Disciplines :
Earth sciences & physical geography
Author, co-author :
Vanmaercke, Matthias ;  Université de Liège > Département de géographie > Géographie physique et du quaternaire
Zenebe, A.;  Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium, Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia
Poesen, J.;  Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
Nyssen, J.;  Department of Geography, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Verstraeten, G.;  Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
Deckers, J.;  Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
Language :
English
Title :
Sediment dynamics and the role of flash floods in sediment export from medium-sized catchments: A case study from the semi-arid tropical highlands in northern Ethiopia
Publication date :
2010
Journal title :
Journal of Soils and Sediments
ISSN :
1439-0108
eISSN :
1614-7480
Publisher :
Springer, Germany
Volume :
10
Issue :
4
Pages :
611-627
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi

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