The major water quality impairment in the midwest United States is sediment eroded from agricultural lands. Yet, few understand the spatial and temporal variability of erosion, or soil erosion dynamics, in relation to precipitation, topography, land management, and severe events. The objectives of this paper are to (1) develop a methodology for estimating long-term spatial soil erosion and water runoff losses and (2) explore issues in applying an established physical-based process model, Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP), to a large area by establishing a prototype system for the state of Iowa. This study for the first time provides a comparison of the model predictions against long-term measurements of the sediment delivery ratio (SDR) in the South Amana Catchment of the Clear Creek Watershed (CCW), a heavily instrumented watershed that is roughly 10 times the maximum WEPP fold size. To further examine the performance of WEPP in a semihumid environment, such as the CCW, where runoff and raindrop impact to erosion may be significant, the SDR was plotted as a function of the runoff coefficient, defined as the runoff/rainfall ratio. In addition, the WEPP predictions are compared against the statistical relation of SDR vs. runoff coefficient developed by Piest et al. in 1975) for watersheds in Iowa. It is shown that WEPP follows the trend shown by Piest et al. quite closely and performs well for continuous simulations extended up to 300 years.
Papanicolaou, A.N. and Abaci, O. (2008): Upland erosion modeling in a semi-humid environment via the Water Erosion Prediction Project model. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9437(2008)134:6(796)