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Applying Online WEPP to Assess Forest Watershed Hydrology

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 56(2): 581-590. (doi: 10.13031/2013.42689) @2013
Authors:   Shuhui Dun, Joan Q. Wu, William J. Elliot, James R. Frankenberger, Dennis C. Flanagan, Donald K. McCool
Keywords:   Forest watershed GIS interface Hydrologic modeling Online WEPP Water erosion.

A new version of the online Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) GIS interface has been developed to assist in evaluating sediment sources associated with forests and forest management within the Great Lakes basin. WEPP watershed structure and topographical inputs for each watershed element are generated from the USGS 30 m National Elevation Dataset (NED), soil inputs are automatically retrieved from the USDA-NRCS SSURGO database, and land use and management inputs are selected from the WEPP database based on the USGS National Land Cover Database 2001 (NLCD2001). Additionally, ground cover and soil properties of the WEPP management and soil input files can be customized to represent site-specific conditions. Daily climate inputs are generated from long-term climate parameters using CLIGEN, a stochastic climate generator embedded in the online interface. Alternatively, a registered user can upload and use observed daily climate data for online WEPP simulation. Long-term observational data, including runoff and water chemistry, from two mature forest watersheds of the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia were used to assess the online WEPP GIS interface. Online WEPP simulations were carried out using both observed and CLIGEN-generated climate inputs, and model performance was examined by comparing simulated and observed runoff and simulated and estimated (from measured water chemistry data) sediment yield. The online WEPP reasonably simulated average annual runoff and the annual maximum runoff series for both watersheds, but overpredicted sediment yield for the annual average and annual maximums. The online WEPP simulation results accurately reflected the differences between the two watersheds in their hydrological characteristics. The online WEPP GIS interface is a user-friendly, web-based computer package that can be used by scientists, researchers, and practitioners as a cost-effective simulation tool for watershed management.

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