Standards vary in studies using rainfall simulators to evaluate erosion
Rainfall simulators are often employed to measure erosion rates, in order to estimate stream loading of sediment and nutrients in California foothill watersheds. The rainfall simulator enables the precise application of artificial rain with controlled drop sizes, intensity and duration. In addition to rain factors such as drop energy and intensity, several soil- and cover-related factors affect erosion rates. While computational models have evolved to quantify erosion based on field measurements taken by rainfall simulators, there has not been a consensus on the methodology to be deployed, especially in forested and remote landscapes. In addition, it is challenging to apply study results from small plots to entire watersheds. To guide future fieldwork on sediment loading to water bodies, we review key concerns related to rainfall simulator studies.