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Spatial Application of WEPS for Estimating Wind Erosion in the Pacific Northwest

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 56(2): 613-624. (doi: 10.13031/2013.42682) @2013
Authors:   Jincheng Gao, Larry E. Wagner, Fred Fox, Serena H. Chung, Joseph K. Vaughan, Brian K. Lamb
Keywords:   Air quality GIS model WEPS wind erosion.

Abstract. The Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) is used to simulate soil erosion by wind on cropland and was originally designed to run simulations on a field scale. This study extended WEPS to run on multiple fields (grid cells) independently to cover a large region and conducted an initial investigation to assess how well WEPS performed in that environment by comparing simulations for two historical dust events with field observations and satellite images in the Columbia Plateau region of Washington. We modified the WEPS source code to allow it not only to run on multiple grid cells but also to save the state of the simulation so that it can be re-initiated from that state in future runs, allowing the model to be started and then stepped through time incrementally under various future climate or forecast weather scenarios. We initially ran WEPS on the entire state of Washington, with the entire Pacific Northwest region as our ultimate target area, to provide PM10 and eventually PM2.5 emissions from wind erosion events as input to the chemical transport model CMAQ, which is used by the AIRPACT regional air quality modeling system for the Pacific Northwest. Three principal inputs to WEPS are meteorological data, soil data, and crop management practices. These data, at a 1 km × 1 km grid cell resolution, are the basic input data for running the spatially distributed model. The climatic data from a three-year period were stochastically generated based on statistical representations of past meteorological measurements from stations in the region and were used for initializing WEPS, and then a three-day set of meteorological data corresponding with historical dust storm events were selected for simulation by WEPS of wind erosion of cropland in the state of Washington. The crop management data were selected based on the land use and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) crop management zones, and the soil data were derived from the NRCS SSURGO database. We aggregated the outputs from 1 km × 1 km grid cells into 12 km × 12 km grid cells for easier visualization and then mapped the total surface soil erosion, suspension, and PM10 emissions for each 12 km × 12 km grid cell. This study shows that WEPS can be successfully extended to run from one field grid cell to multiple field grid cells, and the model can identify regions with high potential for soil erosion by wind. It also demonstrates that WEPS can be used for real-time monitoring of soil erosion and air quality in a large region if actual and forecast weather inputs are available.

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