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Runoff mapping using WEPP erosion model and GIS tools

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Soil erosion, associated with environmental impacts and crop productivity loss, is usually considered the most impacting of surface hydrology processes. Runoff plays a major role in the erosion process, but it is also important by itself as it directly influences several surface hydrologic processes. In this paper, a computer interface (Erosion Database Interface, EDI) is described that allows processing the surface hydrology output database of the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) erosion prediction model, resulting in a georeferenced estimation of runoff. WEPP output contains non-georeferenced daily information about estimated runoff at the lower end of each Overland Flow Element. EDI, when running with WEPP, allows extracting WEPP-calculated runoff values, transforming them into annual means and relocating them in a georeferenced database readable by Geographic Information Systems (GIS). EDI was applied to a 1990 ha watershed in southeast Brazil, with vegetation of mainly sugarcane, forest, and pasture. A 100-year climate simulation was used as input to WEPP, and erosion values were calculated at about six points per hectare and interpolated to a raster format. EDI was successful in preparing the database for automatic calculation of erosion and hydrologic parameters with WEPP and to restore georeferences to mean annual accumulated runoff data that were imported in the GIS as a vector database. Of all the resulting maps, the runoff map is the one that integrates all of the input parameters required for WEPP simulation, thus reflecting not only the physical environment but also crop growth and management and tillage operations. A very small correlation between runoff and erosion shows them to behave independently. Moreover, it is concluded that on analyzing runoff related to agricultural management, georeferenced runoff studies are especially important. In this context, EDI may be a useful tool to assess the effect of tillage and crop management on runoff production.
Jong van Lier, Q. de , Sparovek, G. , Flanagan, D.C. , Bloem, E.M. , Schnug, E.
Includes references
Computers & geosciences 2005 Dec., v. 31, issue 10
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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