Spatiotemporal patterns of hillslope erosion investigated based on field scouring experiments and terrestrial laser scanning

Pengfei Li, Mingkui Hao, Jinfei Hu, Chendi Gao, Guangju Zhao, Faith Ka Shun Chan, Jianjian Gao, Tianmin Dang, Xingmin Mu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Hillslope erosion is an essential source of catchment sediment yield. However, the current understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns of field hillslope erosion processes is limited. In this study, fourteen runoff scouring experiments were undertaken on two plots (A and B) established on one field slope of the hilly and gully loess plateau in China. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) was employed to investigate soil erosion processes across the hillslopes of the plots. The results demonstrated that the TLS-derived cumulative sediment yields of the hillslopes were more accurate than the TLS-derived consecutive sediment yields (i.e., the sediment yields for individual experiments). The magnitudes of the mean absolute/relative errors for the TLS-derived cumulative sediment yield for slopes A and B were 0.87 kg/25.02% and 1.26 kg/56.82%, respectively, with the linear relation R2 between the calculated and measured values over 0.60 (p < 0.001). The sediment yields from the hillslopes fluctuated considerably even when the runoff production became stable, leading to a weak relationship between the sediment yield and runoff discharge (the R2 values for slopes A and B were 0.57 (p = 0.002) and 0.08 (p = 0.321) for inter-experiments, and 0.37 (p < 0.001) and 0.06 (p = 0.035) for intra-experiments, respectively). The development of hillslope erosion was found to experience three major stages, which included a rapid increase and widespread distribution, a sharp decrease, and a stable distribution of the area with erosion/deposition. The rill development impacted the cumulative erosion and sediment yield rather than the cumulative deposition, with the impacts of rill depth and rill width development being stronger than those of rill length. The peak sediment yield corresponded well with the evolution of rills, partly accounting for the weak relationship between runoff and sediment yield. Our results provide a useful reference for the development of process-based soil erosion models and the establishment of spatially targeted control of soil erosion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1674
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Dynamic changes
  • Field hillslope erosion
  • Loess Plateau
  • Monitoring accuracy
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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