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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333672

Title: Introducing a new open source GIS user interface for the SWAT model

item DILE, YIHUN - Texas A&M University
item DAGGUPATI, PRASAD - University Of Guelph
item GEORGE, CHRIS - United Nations University
item SRINIVASAN, RAGHAVAN - Texas A&M University
item Arnold, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Environmental Modelling & Software
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2016
Publication Date: 9/1/2016
Publication URL:
Citation: Dile, Y.T., Daggupati, P., George, C., Srinivasan, R., Arnold, J.G. 2016. Introducing a new open source GIS user interface for the SWAT model. Environmental Modelling & Software. 85:129-138.

Interpretive Summary: Watershed models are routinely used to assess the environmental impacts of climate and land use change. The models require inputs for soil, land use and management, climate, hydrography and topography. Assembling the inputs for large watersheds can be time consuming and difficult. GIS (Geographic Information System) interfaces have been developed to automate input development and spatially display model output. An ArcGIS interface has been developed for the SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) watershed model; however, ArcGIS is proprietary and the cost is prohibitive to many users. In this study, an interface was developed for SWAT using QGIS, an open source GIS. The interface was demonstrated on the Gumera Watershed in Ethiopia and shown to be successful. The interface will be a valuable tool for environmental assessments with improved availability and functionality, especially for model users outside the U.S.

Technical Abstract: The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model is a robust watershed modelling tool. It typically uses the ArcSWAT interface to create its inputs. ArcSWAT is public domain software which works in the licensed ArcGIS environment. The aim of this paper was to develop an open source user interface for the SWAT model. The interface, QSWAT, is written in the Python programming language and uses various functionalities of the open source geographic information system, QGIS. The current interface performs similar functions to ArcSWAT, but with additional enhanced features such as merging small subbasins and static and dynamic visualization of outputs. The interface is demonstrated through a case study in the Gumera watershed in the Lake Tana basin of Ethiopia, where it showed a successful performance. QSWAT will be a valuable tool for the SWAT scientific community, with improved availability and functionality compared with other options for creating SWAT models.