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Research Project: Modeling Soil Erosion and Sediment Yield in Rangeland Environments

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objectives of this cooperative research project are to develop new methods and technologies to improve the measurement and modeling of erosion and sediment yield at a range of scales, with an emphasis on the development of the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM) and application to the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Develop methods and techniques for quantifying natural and anthropogenic induced ephemeral-channel runoff and subsequent recharge in cooperation with U.S. Geological Survey Tucson Science Center under current and projected climate scenarios Develop methods and techniques to quantify and predict water budgets of riparian ecosystems under current and projected climate scenarios through direct measurements of evaporation and plant transpiration and predict water savings by removal of invasive mesquite vegetation. Develop methods and techniques to explicitly quantify the spatial and temporal distribution of vegetation, land use, and infiltration reduction using remotely sensed methods to improve prediction of basin scale semi-arid water budget components.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The RHEM model will be tested, and parameter estimation procedures will be developed. A web-based interface will be constructed. The model will be linked to NRCS databases included the National Resource Inventory (NRI), and methods will be developed to assess the impact of conservation practices on natural resources, and soil erosion in particular. Relative accuracy of the models will be compared and documented, and models will be evaluated in terms of the type of information that each model is able to provide. Documents SCA with U of AZ. Replacing 5342-12660-004-02S 407119 (3/08).

3. Progress Report
Significant progress was made on the development and usability of the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model by implementing the model through a beta version web based interface. Simplified inputs including geographic location, soil type, slope type, and vegetation type and ground cover are used to parameterize the model. Outputs are presented in the form of runoff and erosion event return periods with the ability to compare up to 5 different management scenarios. Monitoring Activities ADODR meets with and speaks by phone with University of Arizona employees on a regular basis to move the project planning forward.

4. Accomplishments