Rainfall Infiltration and Loss on a Bajada in the Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico

by Susan Bolton, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
Tim J. Ward, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
Walter G. Whitford, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulics/Hydrology of Arid Lands (H²AL)


Watershed runoff from thunderstorms is heavily dependent upon the rainfall intensity and the infiltration or loss rate of the watershed. Although there are techniques available for determination infiltration rates of soils, these techniques are inadequate when dealing with vegetation-soil complexes found in arid and semi-arid environments. A more representative technique is on-site measurements of runoff from natural and/or simulated rainfall. In this paper, results from natural and simulated rainfall-runoff plots located on a bajada northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico, are presented. Analyses of the measurements indicate that: the sparse desert vegetation does not have a significant effect on runoff depth (natural plots), vegetation has a slight but significant effect on infiltration rate (simulator plots), and there is a seasonal effect on infiltration losses.

Subject Headings: Rainfall-runoff relationships | Infiltration | Arid lands | Rain water | Rainfall intensity | Vegetation | Runoff | Watersheds | New Mexico | United States

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