Hillslope response under variable microclimate

Netra R. Regmi, Eric V. McDonald, Craig Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Solar radiation-controlled microclimatic variation has been considered a major force on hillslope evolution via feedback among geomorphology, vegetation, soil and hydrology. In this study, we investigate the influence of solar radiation on hillslope dynamics on Santa Catalina Island, CA by comparing hillslope morphology and frequency–magnitude relationships of shallow landslides, rills and gullies on slopes receiving low annual solar radiation (LSR) and high annual solar radiation (HSR), which were found equivalent to north- and south-facing slopes, respectively. LSR slopes on Santa Catalina Island were found more vegetated compared to HSR slopes. LiDAR elevation-derived hillslope morphology showed LSR slopes steeper, rougher and more concave than HSR slopes. Similarly, frequency–magnitude plots showed larger relative frequency of high-magnitude shallow landslides, rills and gullies on LSR slopes, and low-magnitude shallow landslides, rills and gullies on HSR slopes. We argue that the morphology, mass movement and erosion characteristics of LSR and HSR slopes reflect the process–response of microclimate-controlled variation in type and density of vegetation cover, soil physical properties – including moisture, texture, structure, infiltration and erodibility – and surface and subsurface hydrology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2615-2627
Number of pages13
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Santa Catalina Island
  • hillslope evolution
  • hillslope geomorphology
  • mass movement and erosion
  • microclimate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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