The increase of rainfall erosivity and initial soil erosion processes due to rainfall acidification

Ataollah Kavian* (Corresponding Author), Aazam Alipour, Karim Soleimani, Leila Gholami, Pete Smith, Jesús Rodrigo-Comino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The drastic growth of population in highly industrialized urban areas, as well as fossil fuel use, is increasing levels of airborne pollutants and enhancing acid rain. In rapidly developing countries such as Iran, the occurrence of acid rain has also increased. Acid rain is a driving factor of erosion due to the destructive effects on biota and aggregate stability; however, little is known about its impact on specific rates of erosion at the pedon scale. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate the effect of acid rain at pH levels of 5.25, 4.25, and 3.75 for rainfall intensities of 40, 60, and 80 mm h−1 on initial soil erosion processes under dry and saturated soil conditions using rainfall simulations. The results were compared using a two-way ANOVA and Duncan tests and showed that initial soil erosion rates with acidic rain and non-acidic rain under dry soil conditions were significantly different. The highest levels of soil particle loss due to splash effects in all rainfall intensities were observed with the most acidic rain (pH = 3.75), reaching maximum values of 16 g m−2 min−1. The lowest levels of particle losses were observed in the control plot where non-acidic rain was used, with values ranging from 3.8 to 8.1 g m−2 min−1. Similarly, under saturated soil conditions, the lowest level of soil particle loss was observed in the control plot, and the highest peaks of soil loss were observed for the most acidic rains (pH = 3.75 and pH = 4.25), reaching maximum average values of 40 g m−2 min−1. However, for saturated soils with acidic water but with non-acidic rain, the highest soil particle loss was observed for the control plot for all the rainfall intensities. In conclusion, acidic rain has a negative impact on soils, which can be more intense with a concomitant increase in rainfall intensity. Rapid solutions, therefore, need to be found to reduce the emission of pollutants into the air, otherwise, rainfall erosivity may drastically increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • acid rain
  • runoff
  • soil loss
  • splash erosion


Dive into the research topics of 'The increase of rainfall erosivity and initial soil erosion processes due to rainfall acidification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this