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J Environ Qual. 2014 Jan;43(1):37-45. doi: 10.2134/jeq2011.0383.

Simulation of streamflow and sediment with the soil and water assessment tool in a data scarce catchment in the three gorges region, china.


The Three Gorges Region in China is currently subject to a large-scale land use change, which was induced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. The relocation of towns, villages, and agricultural areas is expected to affect the water balance and increase erosion rates and sediment yields in the affected catchments. Hydrologic and water quality models are frequently used to assess the impact of land use changes on water resources. In this study, the eco-hydrological Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model is applied to the Xiangxi Catchment in the Three Gorges Region. This paper presents the calibration and validation of streamflow and sediment loads at Xingshan gauging station. The calibration of daily streamflow resulted in a satisfactory fit of simulated and observed data, which is indicated by Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) values of 0.69 and 0.67 for the calibration (1981-1986) and validation (1988-1993) periods, respectively. In contrast, the model was not able to simulate the monthly average sediment loads correctly, as indicated by very low NSE values of 0.47 (calibration) and 0.08 (validation). This might be due to inadequate representation of spatial rainfall variability by the available climate stations, insufficient input data, uncertainties in the model structure, or uncertainties in the observed sediment loads. The discussion of these possible reasons for the incorrect prediction of sediment loads by SWAT reveals the need for further research in the field of hydrological and water quality modeling in China.


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