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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Tour Stop #1: Remote Sensing/GIS/Modeling
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R. L. Bingner

          Remote sensing utilizes information from many sources located at a distant location. Satellites can provide information on elevation, types of vegetation, soil parameters, and much more along with standard photographs. Airplane reconnaissance can also provide similar information, often at higher resolutions. Ground-based remote sensing can provide weather information, such as with the NEXRAD doppler radar imaging equipment to determine rainfall and wind speeds distributed over large areas.

          NSL uses remote sensing to simplify and improve data collection efforts from large watersheds previously obtained manually. This information can be used with geographical information systems (GIS) to develop a database of watershed characteristics. A GIS can organize watershed data so additional information can be obtained, such as locations of highly erodible lands based on soils, vegetation, and field slopes. The integration of GIS and watershed models provides a convenient method of deriving many model input parameters. Previously, the determination of model parameters manually was a deterrent in the application of the models to large watersheds

          The integration of remote sensing and GIS with watershed models, such as SWAT and AGNPS, has provided NSL with the opportunity to research and develop technology that combines many complex watershed processes into modules for watershed models. These modules address the effects of highly ephemeral streams, such as in northern Mississippi, on total sediment yield from a watershed. Included in these modules are the effects on the watershed from instream structures for bed and bank protection, and management decisions based on the best practices for controlling erosion within fields. The integration of field and channel processes in a model provides a tool to evaluate the effects of management decisions on the entire watershed system.

Key Words:
Sediment yield, Watershed systems, Channels, GIS, Remote sensing, Watershed models.

Publications:
Bingner, R. L. 1996. Runoff simulated from Goodwin Creek Watershed using SWAT. Transactions of the ASAE 39(l): 85-90.

Last Modified: 3/7/2006
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