Title: Modelling the impact of land-use change and farm dam construction on hillslope sediment delivery to rivers at the regional scale
Authors: Verstraeten, Gert ×
Prosser, Ian P #
Issue Date: Jun-2008
Publisher: Elsevier science bv
Series Title: Geomorphology vol:98 issue:3-4 pages:199-212
Abstract: Landscapes in southeastern Australia have changed dramatically since the spread of European colonisation in the 19th century. Due to widespread forest clearance for cultivation and grazing, erosion and sediment yields have increased by a factor of more than 150. In the 20th century, erosion and sediment yield were reduced again due to an increasing vegetative cover. Furthermore, during the last decades, thousands of small farm dams were constructed to provide drinking water for cattle. These dams trap a lot of sediment, thereby further reducing sediment delivery from hillslopes to river channels. Changes in sediment delivery since European colonisation are documented in sediment archives. Within this study, these changing rates in hillslope erosion and sediment delivery were modelled using a spatially distributed erosion and sediment delivery model (WATEM/SEDEM) that was calibrated for Australian ecosystems using sediment yield data derived from sedimentation rates in 26 small farm dams. The model was applied to the Murrumbidgee river basin (30,000 km 2) under different land-use scenarios. First, the erosion and sediment yield under pre-European land-use was modelled. Secondly, recent land-use patterns were used in the model. Finally, recent land-use including the impact of farm dams and large reservoirs was simulated. The results show that the WATEM/SEDEM model is capable of predicting the intensity of the geomorphic response to changes in land-use through time. Changes in hillslope erosion and hillslope sediment delivery rates are not equal, illustrating the non-linear response of the catchment. Current hillslope sediment supply to the river channel network is predicted to be 370% higher compared to the pre-European settlement period, yet farm dams have reduced this back to 2.5 times the pre-19th century values. The role of larger reservoirs is even more important as they have reduced the current sediment supply downstream to their pre-European values, thus completely masking the increased hillslope erosion rates from land-use change. However, the model does so far not include valley widening and sediment storage in river systems. Therefore, modelled rates of sediment delivery are lower than observed values. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ISSN: 0169-555X
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division of Geography & Tourism
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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