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Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106

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Methodology for estimating the topographic factor LS of RUSLE3D and USPED

using GIS
Jose L. Garcia Rodriguez, Martin C. Gimenez Suarez
Hydraulics and Hydrology Laboratory, Forest Engineering Department, ETSI Montes, Technical University of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n (28040), Madrid, Spain

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In the RUSLE3D (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation3D) and USPED (Unit Stream Power-based Erosion De-
Received 9 March 2010 position) models, the effects of topography on soil loss are represented by the combined factor LS, where L is
Received in revised form 1 March 2012 the slope length factor and S the slope gradient factor. The problems with measuring slope gradient and
Accepted 1 July 2012
length over large areas are i) they are not always estimated correctly, and ii) different ways are used for
Available online 7 July 2012
their calculation. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software has several algorithms for estimating topo-
graphic parameters included in the equations of LS. The objective of this research was developing a methodology
Water erosion for LS calculation using GIS, in order to dene the most accurate algorithm for each parameter. For the estimation
LS factor of S and upslope contribution area (~L), the Zevenbergen and Thorne algorithm and the Deterministic Innity
GIS algorithm, respectively, were selected.
Topography 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Geomorphological research has played an important role in the

development and implementation of soil erosion assessment tools.
1.1. Background To be useful for decision makers, soil erosion models must have sim-
ple data requirements, must consider spatial and temporal variability
Water erosion is a severe and extended issue affecting all European in hydrological and soil erosion processes, and must be applicable to a
countries, although with different intensities. The European Mediterra- variety of regions with minimum calibration (Renschler and Harbor,
nean countries are particularly prone to erosion, because they are sub- 2002).
ject to prolonged dry periods followed by heavy erosive rains falling The Universal Soil Loss Equation, USLE, is the most widely used
on steep slopes characterized by fragile soils (Terranova et al., 2009). and accepted empirical soil erosion model for water erosion assess-
The process of soil erosion leads to sediment transport and consequent ment. It was developed for sheet and rill erosion based on a large
deposition. Sediment is detached from the soil surface by both raindrop set of experimental data from agricultural plots (Wischmeier and
impact and the shearing force of owing water. The detached sediment Smith, 1978), for detachment capacity limited erosion with negligible
is transported downslope primarily by owing water, although there is topographic curvature and deposition, and for representing soil loss
also a small amount of downslope transport by raindrop splash averaged in space and time (Mitasova et al., 1996a). The USLE is:
(Walling, 1988). Once runoff starts over the surface areas and in the
streams, the quantity and size of material transported increases with TR K L S C P 1
the velocity of the runoff. At some point, the slope may decrease,
resulting in a decreased velocity and hence a decreased transport capac- where T = average annual soil loss per unit area predicted by the
ity (Haan et al., 1994). The sediment is then deposited, starting with the model (t acre 1 year 1); R = rainfallrunoff erosivity factor (the
large primary particles and aggregates. Smaller particles are trans- rainfall erosion index); K = soil erodibility factor, the soil loss rate
ported further downslope, resulting in the enrichment of nes. The per erosion index unit for a specied soil on a standard plot, which
amount of sediment load passing the outlet of a catchment forms its is dened as a 72.6-ft. (22.13 m) length of uniform 9% slope in contin-
sediment yield (Jain and Kothyari, 2000). uous clean-tilled fallow; L = slope length factor, the ratio of soil loss
from the eld slope length to soil loss from a 72.6-ft length under
identical conditions; S = slope steepness factor, the ratio of soil loss
from the eld slope gradient to soil loss from a 9% slope under other-
wise identical conditions; C = cover-management factor, the ratio of
soil loss from an area with specied cover and management to soil
Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +34 913367093. loss from an identical area in tilled continuous fallow; and P = support
E-mail address: martincgs@ingenieros.com (M.C. Gimenez Suarez). practice factor, the ratio of soil loss with a support practice such as

0169-555X/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106 99

contouring, strip-cropping, or terracing to soil loss with straight-row area and the total length of the drainage lines. Wilson (1986) represent-
farming up and down the slope. ed a watershed by a limited number of proles on which the methodol-
L and S in Eq. (1) are computed as follows: ogy for irregular slopes was applied. Grifn et al. (1988) compared
 m various manual methods and concluded that there was no obvious
best method. However, they observed that the uniform slope method
L 2
22:13 consistently underestimated LS values when compared to the irregular
slope method or the point method. The point method, on the other
hand, was more sensitive to the density of the sample grid than the ir-
m 3
1 regular slope method (Desmet and Govers, 1996b). Basically, all the
(   ) methods described above calculate the LS value for a sample of points
or proles in the area under study. The results are then considered to
 r 4
3 sin 0;8
0:56 be representative for the whole area. A fundamental problem may
arise: although measuring the local slope from a contour map is rela-
S 10:8 sin 0:03; for terrain slope < 9% 5 tively straightforward, measuring slope length at a given point is more
S 16:8 sin0:05; for terrain slope > 9% 6 In a manual analysis, the distance from the point under consider-
ation to the divide is measured and considered as the slope length for
where = slope length (m); m = variable exponent according to ; that point. A difculty with this approach is that it is not always easy
= the ratio of erosion in rills to that in inter-rills; = slope steep- to dene clearly the location of the divide. The accuracy of where breaks
ness angle (degrees); and r = coefcient equal to 0.5 for forest land, for L and S values in a given farm eld are located relies on the experi-
1.0 for agricultural land, and 2.0 for construction sites. ence of the eld operator on how to partition the eld into homoge-
The USLE has been enhanced during the past 30 years by a number neous LS units (Lewis et al., 2005). However, the major problem is
of researchers. For example, MUSLE (Williams, 1975), RUSLE (Renard et that in a two-dimensional situation, slope length should be replaced
al., 1991, 1997), ANSWERS (Beasley et al., 1989), and RUSLE3D by the unit contributing area, A, i.e. the upslope drainage area per unit
(Mitasova et al., 1996a,b; Mitasova and Mitas, 1999) are based on the of contour length. According to Desmet and Govers (1996b), in a real
USLE and represent its improvement. The use of USLE and its revisions two-dimensional overland ow and the resulting soil loss do not really
is limited to the estimation of gross erosion, and lack the capability to depend on the distance to the divide or upslope border of the eld, but
compute deposition along hillslopes and depressions or in channels. on the area contributing runoff per unit contour length (Ahnert, 1976;
Moreover, the fact that erosion can occur only along a ow line without Bork and Hensel, 1988; Moore and Nieber, 1989). The latter may differ
the inuence of the water ow itself restricts direct application of the considerably from the manually measured slope length, as it is strongly
USLE to complex terrain. This one-dimensional structure means that affected by ow convergence and/or divergence. Thus, although manual
the equation cannot handle converging and diverging terrain, i e., real methods account for the effect of prole shape on erosion, they do not
3-D landscapes (Moore and Wilson, 1992). account for planform shape, i.e. the degree of convergence (Desmet
Specic effects of topography and hydrology on soil loss, in the and Govers, 1996a).
USLE and its revisions, are estimated by the non-dimensional LS fac- The solution in these situations would be the use of GIS. With ad-
tor, as the product of L and S. According to Wischmeier and Smith vances in GIS, erosion models tended to adopt a more explicit represen-
(1978), , included in the L factor equation (Eq. (2)), is dened as tation of the area on which erosion occurs using spatially distributed
the distance from the point of origin of overland ow to either 1) parameters, providing outputs showing the spatial variability of the
the point where the slope decreases enough to promote deposition process (Feng et al., 2010). GIS-based approaches provide one of the
or 2) the point where runoff enters a well-dened channel of a natu- few means available for systematically examining the role of spatial var-
ral or articial network (Wischmeier and Smith, 1965). The concept iability in soil properties, rock types and numerous other geologic and
of Wischmeier and Smith (1978) is common to the RUSLE and USLE. climatic properties in the evolution of a landscape. The spatially explicit
The main difference between the two equations is the estimation of nature of GIS analyses and their emphasis on incorporating real-world
in Eq. (2). The RUSLE equations have been improved for their appli- data make GIS a powerful tool for building insight into the evolution
cation in watersheds, in contrast to the USLE designed for agricultural of complex landscapes and landscape processes (Finlayson and
plots (Garcia Rodrguez and Gimenez Suarez, 2010a). Montgomery, 2003; Wilson, 2011).
Estimation of the LS factor poses more problems than the other To minimize subjectivity in calculating the LS factor, calculations
factors in the USLE (Renard et al., 1991), particularly in applications based on digital elevation models (DEMs) and GIS procedures have
to real landscapes. Some of these problems stem from implicit as- been developed (Desmet and Govers, 1996b; Mitasova et al., 1996a,b;
sumptions concerning runoff generation and sediment transport, no- Mitasova and Mitas, 1999; Van Remortel et al., 2004; Garcia Rodrguez
tably uniform runoff generated over a catchment, runoff via the and Gimenez Suarez, 2010a). Desmet and Govers (1996b) as well as
inltration excess mechanism (i.e., Hortonian overland ow) without Mitasova et al. (1996b) focused on a grid-cell-based evaluation of LS
saturation overland ow, and no representation of sediment deposi- in a multi-ow context (Lewis et al., 2005). A simplied method of esti-
tion even at the lower ends of concave slopes (Moore and Wilson, mating LS in the RUSLE is presented by Desmet and Govers (1996b) that
1992). can be easily extended to estimating soil loss in complex 3-D terrain. It
While the USLE is designed for straight slope sections, Foster and may also help distinguish areas experiencing net erosion and those
Wischmeier (1974) developed a procedure to calculate the average experiencing net deposition.
soil loss on complex slope proles by dividing an irregular slope into
some segments to take slope prole shape into account. This is impor- 1.2. Spatial modeling with RUSLE3D
tant as slope shape inuences erosion (D'Souza and Morgan, 1976;
Desmet and Govers, 1996a). Using manual methods the USLE was al- In the 1980s, the implementation of the LS factor was unfeasible in
ready applied on a watershed scale (Williams and Berndt, 1977; a watershed scale, because the variation of in Eq. (3) was difcult to
Wilson, 1986; Grifn et al., 1988). Williams and Berndt (1977) repre- represent. The RUSLE uses the same empirical principles as the USLE;
sented a watershed by a limited number of points from which the aver- however, it includes numerous improvements such as monthly fac-
age watershed slope was calculated. The watershed slope length was tors, incorporation of the inuence of prole convexity/concavity
determined for the watershed as a whole, based on the catchment using segmentation of irregular slopes, and improved empirical
100 J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106

Fig. 1. Location of the Arroyo del Lugar basin, Puebla de Valles, Spain.

equations for LS computation (Renard et al., 1997). To incorporate the LS at a point r=(x, y) on a hillslope is employed (Mitasova et al., 1996a,b;
impact of ow convergence, was replaced by upslope contributing Mitasova and Mitas, 1999):
area, A (Moore and Burch, 1986a,b; Tarboton and Ames, 2001). A
modied equation in the nite difference form for computing LS at a  
grid cell representing a hillslope segment was derived by Desmet and A r m sinbr n
LSr m 1 s 7
Govers (1996b). In the RUSLE3D model, a simpler equation for computing 22:13 sin5:143

Table 1
Slope values (in degrees) from nine different algorithms and sample points taken in the eld (Campo10m column).

Point Campo10m ArcGIS(S&E) Bau_AP2 Zeve_AP2 Herr_AP2 Max_pen Maxpen_tri Pl_ajuste Hara_AP3 Hick_mpab

1 22.294 14.864 16.931 15.205 16.931 13.278 13.609 15.128 15.365 14.332
2 7.407 8.514 8.715 8.432 8.715 6.838 10.380 8.118 8.677 9.524
3 16.699 10.179 12.885 10.228 12.885 5.840 8.358 9.613 9.694 5.439
4 14.036 15.444 15.979 14.244 15.979 8.609 14.196 13.564 13.343 11.411
5 1.718 4.424 3.694 3.595 3.694 3.054 2.485 3.473 3.655 2.438
6 12.407 15.283 8.715 12.448 8.715 10.582 9.254 11.605 11.767 14.684
7 30.964 15.640 15.651 14.331 15.651 12.120 9.254 14.263 14.720 15.025
8 1.146 14.897 3.694 7.341 3.694 4.864 5.527 6.857 6.592 11.251
9 30.964 23.494 12.663 24.581 12.663 20.500 20.348 23.822 24.179 19.684
10 20.807 23.926 19.742 23.495 19.742 21.350 21.762 23.086 23.099 26.044
11 20.807 25.910 20.322 27.015 20.322 28.018 22.864 27.072 27.615 24.754
12 19.290 17.582 20.322 19.889 20.322 25.407 21.287 20.002 20.488 28.066
13 14.036 6.675 15.873 7.885 15.873 9.634 17.122 8.042 7.424 6.021
14 6.277 15.113 15.914 12.086 15.914 11.106 19.803 12.218 12.367 13.359
15 4.574 13.120 14.447 19.636 14.447 21.765 15.923 19.767 20.545 15.724
16 11.860 11.161 14.447 11.526 14.447 10.969 19.560 11.623 11.104 10.503
17 1.718 15.041 16.237 12.647 16.237 15.023 19.560 13.009 12.613 20.119
18 6.277 15.275 12.702 12.459 12.702 13.038 18.692 12.827 13.081 14.533
19 6.843 1.025 6.121 4.850 6.121 6.325 10.834 4.925 4.532 1.085
20 2.291 0.754 2.912 0.704 2.912 0.952 4.477 0.717 0.596 0.852
21 1.146 1.459 2.388 3.110 2.388 3.628 5.092 2.919 3.013 1.403
22 1.146 1.922 3.212 2.545 3.212 3.448 5.092 2.647 2.580 2.143
23 9.090 6.766 8.388 10.121 8.388 14.023 11.443 10.476 11.276 11.157
24 1.146 1.348 3.932 2.048 3.932 2.495 6.757 2.008 1.924 1.107
25 4.004 5.618 9.704 6.903 9.704 7.595 14.436 6.804 6.075 5.551
26 5.143 3.825 10.018 6.232 10.018 8.003 15.321 6.073 5.983 5.046
27 7.407 14.015 10.581 11.878 10.581 11.535 10.988 11.618 11.716 12.022
28 7.407 7.455 10.581 8.412 10.581 7.333 20.832 8.220 7.853 5.573
29 6.843 7.789 10.492 9.778 10.492 13.099 20.832 9.800 9.897 10.279
30 7.970 12.828 12.662 15.093 12.662 14.105 20.737 14.472 14.651 11.234
31 14.574 16.128 13.560 15.612 13.560 20.503 24.385 15.609 15.795 23.584
32 11.310 24.858 21.889 27.826 21.889 29.487 24.385 27.317 27.633 26.406

Note: Campo10m: Field data. ArcGIS(S&E): Burrough and Mcdonell (1998). Bau:AP2: Bauer et al. (1985). Herr_AP2: Heerdegen and Beran (1982). Max_pen: Travis et al. (1975).
Maxpen_tri: Tarboton (1997). Pl_ajuste: Costa-Cabral and Burgess (1994). Zeve_AP2: Zevenbergen and Thorne (1987). Hara_AP3: Haralick and Fu (1983); Hick_mpab: Van
Remortel et al. (2004).
J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106 101

Table 2 Table 4
Kruskal Wallis test slope values (in degrees) from nine different algorithms (see Pearson correlation test slope values (in degrees) from nine different algorithms (see
Table 1) and sample points taken in the eld (Campo10m column). Table 1) versus sample points taken in the eld. The best correlation value is shown in
Pearson correlations
Groups N Mean rank
N Correlation
Campo10m 32 132.56
ArcGIS(S&E) 32 160.06 Pair 1 arcGIS(S&E) 32 0.647
Bauer_AP2 32 165.16 Pair 2 Bauer_AP2 32 0.635
Zevenb_AP2 32 158.16 Pair 3 Zevenb_AP2 32 0.671
Heerd_AP2 32 165.16 Pair 4 Heerd_AP2 32 0.635
max_pend 32 157.31 Pair 5 max_pend 32 0.541
maxpend_tri 32 196.41 Pair 6 maxpend_tri 32 0.382
Pl_ajuste 32 156.78 Pair 7 Pl_ajuste 32 0.664
Hara_AP3 32 157.66 Pair 8 Hara_AP3 32 0.664
Hick_mpab 32 155.75 Pair 9 Hick_mpab 32 0.571
Total 320
Correlation is signicant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Test statistic Correlation is signicant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
Test score

Chi-square 8.125
df 9
Asymp. Sig. .522
Table 5
Spearman correlation test on slope values (in degrees) from nine different algorithms
(see Table 1) versus sample points taken in the eld. The best correlation value is
shown in bold.
where As is the specic catchment area (A divided by the contour width), Spearman correlations
which is assumed to equal the width of a grid cell; b (r) (degrees) is the
N Correlation
slope, and m and n are parameters for a specic prevailing type of ow
and soil conditions. In Eq. (7), 22.13 m (72.6 ft.) and 5.143=0.09 are Pair 1 arcGIS(S&E) 32 0.657
Pair 2 Bauer_AP2 32 0.670
the length and slope of the standard USLE plot, respectively.
Pair 3 Zevenb_AP2 32 0.721
Pair 4 Heerd_AP2 32 0.670
Pair 5 max_pend 32 0.589
1.3. Spatial modeling of erosion and deposition with USPED Pair 6 maxpend_tri 32 0.486
Pair 7 Pl_ajuste 32 0.709
The USPED (unit stream power-based erosion deposition) is a sim- Pair 8 Hara_AP3 32 0.710
Pair 9 Hickey 32 0.584
ple model that predicts the spatial distribution of erosion and deposi-
tion rates for a steady state overland ow with uniform rainfall-excess
conditions. It assumes that the erosion process is transport-limited,
which means that water ow can transport a limited amount of sedi-
improvements afterward (Mitasova et al., 1996a). The USPED assumes
ment determined by the capacity of water ow. These methods also as-
that the sediment ow rate qs (r) corresponds to the sediment transport
sume that the amount of sediment carried by water is always at its full
capacity T (r), which is approximated as:
transporting capacity and net erosion/deposition is estimated as a
change in sediment ow rate expressed by a divergence in sediment
ow (Mitasova et al., 1996a,b). The model is based on the theory origi- m
qs r T r K t r qr  sinbr
nally outlined by Moore and Burch (1986a,b) with numerous

Table 3
ANOVA test on slope values (in degrees) from nine different algorithms (see Table 1), and sample points taken in the eld (Campo10m column).


Groups Count Sum Min. Max. Average Variance Kurtosis Skewness

Campo10m 32 329.6000 1.1460 30.9640 10.3000 8.2860 0.5580 1.0377

ArcGIS(S&E) 32 372.3323 0.7540 25.9100 11.6354 7.2146 0.6438 0.2215
Bau_AP2 32 375.3732 2.3880 21.8890 11.7304 5.5422 0.8080 0.1059
Herr_AP2 32 382.1570 0.7040 27.8260 11.9424 7.1463 0.0692 0.6278
Max_pen 32 375.3732 2.3880 21.8890 11.7304 5.5422 0.8080 0.1059
Maxpen_tri 32 384.5250 0.9520 29.4870 12.0164 7.5194 0.0667 0.7646
Pl_ajuste 32 465.5943 2.4850 24.3850 14.5498 6.5548 1.2368 0.2246
Zeve_AP2 32 377.6937 0.7170 27.3170 11.8029 7.0769 0.1004 0.6193
Hara_AP3 32 379.8515 0.5960 27.6330 11.8704 7.2631 0.1532 0.6226
Hick_mpab 32 380.3541 0.8520 28.0660 11.8861 8.0618 0.6498 0.4565

Source of variation SS df MS F P-value F crit

Between groups 310.829 9 34.537 0.690 0.718 1.910

With groups 15,516.712 310 50.054
Total 15,827.541 319
102 J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106

Fig. 2. Flow chart describing the methodology for estimating the topographic factor LS of the RUSLE3D and USPED models.

where q (r) is water ow rate, Kt (r) is transportability coefcient, which where KCP ~ Kt and m = 1.6 and n = 1.3 for prevailing rill erosion, for
is dependent on soil and cover; and m and n are constants that vary prevailing sheet erosion, m = n = 1.
according to type of ow and soil properties. For overland ow the con-
stants are usually set to m= 1.6 and n =1.3 (Mitasova et al., 1996a,b;
Mitasova and Mitas, 1999). The USPED uses the RUSLE parameters to in- 1.4. Objective
corporate the approximate impact of soil and land cover, and obtains at
least a relative estimate of net erosion and deposition (Mitasova et al., Taking into account that there are several algorithms for estimat-
1996a,b). The USPED assumes that sediment ow at sediment transport ing topographic parameters included in the equations of the LS factor,
capacity is: our working hypothesis is whether it is possible to establish a single
methodology to calculate the parameters and to improve the detec-
m n
T R K C P L S R K C P A sin b 9 tion of geomorphic processes at each point of the basin using the
J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106 103

Fig. 3. LS factor maps based on different equations. The USLE-LS and RUSLE-LS maps were estimated following the procedures of Wischmeier and Smith (1978) and Renard et al.
(1997), respectively. The LS-400,000 map was made by ICONA (1989) using the USLE but without using GIS. The LS values in the RUSLE3D-LS map were calculated following the
procedure described in Fig. 2.

RUSLE3D, USPED and GIS. The objective of this research was the test hydrological analysis with several algorithms to estimate slope inclina-
of the hypothesis. tion and ow accumulation. GvSIG is free software and available in En-
glish and Spanish (http://www.gvsig.gva.es/).
2. Study area To obtain LS factor values in raster and then integrate them with the
RUSLE3D and USPED, i) a digital elevation model (DEM), ii) a slope in-
The study area was the Arroyo del Lugar basin located in the Munic- clination map, iii) a ow accumulation map (upslope contribution
ipality of Puebla de Valles, Guadalajara (Spain). This basin forms part of area, A), and a specic catchment area map (As) need to be created
the middle section of the Jarama River, located in the northwest section one by one.
of the Province of Guadalajara, which forms part of the drainage basin of Our tests indicated that the best interpolation algorithm for DEM
the Tajo River, Spain (Fig. 1). The total area of the basin is 768.62 ha and construction was the method included in ArcGIS, Topo to Raster. This
total length of the stream is 7253 m. In terms of elevation, the highest algorithm also permits an advanced hydrological correction (Nigel
point of the basin is the Rasuelo point at 1071 m above sea level, and Rughooputh, 2010). We chose a cell size of 10-m to create a
and the lowest point is 841 m where the stream passes under the DEM from 10-m interval contours.
GU-195 route bridge. To select an algorithm for determining slope inclination, a series of
The climate is the transition between Mediterranean and Atlantic, slope data were collected at a sample site in the eld to compare
as is evident by the presence of Quercus pyrenaica and Quercus faginea them with the data from the DEM (Table 1). An analog clinometer
(Allue Andrade, 1990). The study basin is underlain by sedimentary and a Trimble GeoExplorer 3 GPS were used in the eld.
substrate of varied granulometry, mainly conglomeratic formations We used nine different mathematical algorithms to derive slope
composed of gravel, usually quartz, bound in a red sandyclay matrix from the DEM (Garcia Rodrguez and Gimenez Suarez, 2010b):
typical of Central and Western area of the Iberian Peninsula. The soil
is poorly consolidated, soft and easily erodible. This condition favors Neighborhood method. Burrough and Mcdonell (1998). Included in
gully expansion of gullies of as a result of water erosion (Allue ArcGIS.
Andrade, 1990). 2nd degree polynomial adjustment. Bauer et al. (1985).
2nd degree polynomial adjustment. Heerdegen and Beran (1982).
3. Material and methods 2nd degree polynomial adjustment. Zevenbergen and Thorne
This study was supported by GIS software, ArcGIS 9.3 and GvSIG 3rd degree polynomial adjustment. Haralick and Fu (1983).
(Olaya, 2006). GvSIG offers signicant advantages over ArcGIS in Maximum slope. Travis et al. (1975).
104 J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106

Fig. 4. Comparison of erosion maps for the Arroyo del Lugar basin based on the RUSLE3D, USPED, and USLE (ICONA, 1989).

Maximum slope by triangles. Tarboton (1997). tests were made to identify differences between the algorithms. The
Least squares t plane. Costa-Cabral and Burgess (1994). highest correlation with eld data, according to both Pearson and
Maximum downhill slope. Van Remortel et al. (2004). Spearman correlation coefcients (Tables 4 and 5, respectively), was
with the Zevenbergen and Thorne 2nd degree polynomial adjustment
To determine the ow accumulation, the following algorithms
algorithm, with a positive value of 0.671 and 0.721 at 99% condence
were analyzed:
level, respectively. For this reason the algorithm was used for slope es-
Single ow direction algorithm (D8). O'Callaghan and Mark (1984). timation (Garcia Rodrguez and Gimenez Suarez, 2010b).
Braunschweiger digitales relief model (Braun) algorithm. Bauer et With regard to the calculation of ow accumulation, the D algo-
al. (1985). rithm of Tarboton (1997) was selected based on the way of determining
Random eight-node algorithm (Rho8). Faireld and Leymarie ow direction. The three most common and representative methods for
(1991). calculating ow accumulation are D8, MFD, and D (Pelletier, 2010).
Multiple ow direction algorithm (MFD). Quinn et al. (1991). The D8 method routes ow from each pixel towards the neighboring
Kinematic routing algorithm (Kinematic). Lea (1992). pixel (including diagonals) that represents the steepest descent. It has
Digital elevation model network algorithm (DEMON). Costa-Cabral the widely-recognized problem that ow pathways are unrealistically
and Burges (1994). restricted to the multiples of 45. The MFD and D methods were
Deterministic Innity algorithm (D). Tarboton (1997). designed to avoid this problem, by allowing ow to be partitioned
among multiple downslope neighbors (Pelletier, 2010). In MFD, howev-
4. Results er, ow is proportioned to all downslope neighbors according to slope
gradient, introducing unrealistic dispersion (Tarolli and Dalla Fontana,
The statistical analysis of slope algorithms (Table 1) according to 2009). With D, the ow direction is determined following the steepest
KruskalWallis (Table 2) and ANOVA (Table 3) tests, suggests no signif- descent and is represented as a continuous quantity between 0 and 2
icant differences between groups at the 95% condence level. In order to in direction (Tarboton, 1997). This ensures that ow dispersion is re-
establish a single algorithm for estimating the slope gradient, correlation duced by dividing the ow between a maximum of two neighboring
J.L. Garcia Rodriguez, M.C. Gimenez Suarez / Geomorphology 175176 (2012) 98106 105

downslope grid cells (Vogt et al., 2003), letting at pixels drain to a References
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