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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HYDROLOGIC PROCESSES, SCALE, CLIMATE VARIABILITY, AND WATER RESOURCES FOR SEMIARID WATERSHED MANAGEMENT

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

Title: Soil-Erosion Models: Where do we Really Stand? Short Communication (Discussion) on the papers by Wainwright et al. (2008a, b, c)

Authors
item Schnaffner, M. -
item Smith, R.E. -
item Quinton, J. -
item Goodrich, David
item Nearing, Mark

Submitted to: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2009
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Citation: Smith, R.E., Quinton, J., Goodrich, D.C., Nearing, M.A. 2010. Soil-Erosion Models: Where do we Really Stand? Short Communication (Discussion) on the papers by Wainwright et al. (2008a, b, c). Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. p. 1-5.

Interpretive Summary: Erosion of soil poses a threat to our ability to produce food and fiber for the long-term. A number of computer simulation models of erosion have been developed in an attempt to guide and aid farmers and land managers to control erosion. A new erosion model is proposed and developed in a series of three separate papers. The new model is called MAHLERAN. In justification for this new model, several existing ARS erosion models are criticized in regard to their theoretical underpinnings and presumptions. This discussion is a response to criticisms as well general discussion of the true weaknesses of all erosion model. We conclude that the new MAHLERAN model offers no solution to these weaknesses and suffers from several unique weaknesses its own. Further basic research and experimental work will be required to address the shortcomings of general erosion modeling approaches.

Technical Abstract: Wainwright, et al. (Earth Surface Processes and Landforms; 2008a, b, c) propose a new model (MAHLERAN) for simulating catchment-scale erosion resulting from rainfall-runoff events. In justification for this new model, several existing process-based models are criticized in regard to their theoretical underpinnings and presumptions. Since the authors do not correctly characterize the models mentioned, it is felt useful to correct the record in that regard in this discussion. The models criticized by Wainwright et al. include KINEROS, KINEROS2, EUROSEM, and WEPP. Being familiar with these, we point out what we feel to be the true weaknesses of nearly all erosion models, for which the MAHLERAN model offers no cure. Their model suffers from many of the weaknesses as those critiqued, plus some unique ones of its own.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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