Modelling hydrological processes and identifying soil erosion sources in a tropical catchment of the Great Barrier Reef using SWAT

Rafiei, Vahid and Ghahramani, Afshin ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9648-4606 and An-Vo, Duc-Anh ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7528-7139 and Mushtaq, Shahbaz (2020) Modelling hydrological processes and identifying soil erosion sources in a tropical catchment of the Great Barrier Reef using SWAT. Water, 12 (8). pp. 2179-2206.

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Abstract

Study region: North Johnstone catchment, located in the north east of Australia. The catchment has wet tropical climate conditions and is one of the major sediment contributors to the Great Barrier Reef. Study focus: The purpose of this paper was to identify soil erosion hotspots through simulating hydrological processes, soil erosion and sediment transport using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). In particular, we focused on predictive uncertainty in the model evaluations and presentations—a major knowledge gap for hydrology and soil erosion modelling in the context of Great Barrier Reef catchments. We carried out calibration and validation along with uncertainty analysis for streamflow and sediment at catchment and sub-catchment scales and investigated details of water balance components, the impact of slope steepness and spatio-temporal variations on soil erosion. The model performance in simulating actual evapotranspiration was compared with those of the Australian Landscape Water Balance (AWRA-L) model to increase our confidence in simulating water balance components. New hydrological insights for the region: The spatial locations of soil erosion hotspots were identified and their responses to different climatic conditions were quantified. Furthermore, a set of land use scenarios were designed to evaluate the effect of reforestation on sediment transport. We anticipate that protecting high steep slopes areas, which cover a relatively small proportion of the catchment (4–9%), can annually reduce 15–26% sediment loads to the Great Barrier Reef.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2020 00:26
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2020 04:31
Uncontrolled Keywords: catchment modelling; uncertainty analysis; water balance; sediment; actual evapotranspiration
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040608 Surfacewater Hydrology
04 Earth Sciences > 0403 Geology > 040301 Basin Analysis
04 Earth Sciences > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/w12082179
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39247

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