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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2020-64
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2020-64
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  31 Aug 2020

31 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

How do modeling choices impact the representation of structural connectivity and the dynamics of suspended sediment fluxes in distributed soil erosion models?

Magdalena Uber1, Guillaume Nord1, Cédric Legout1, and Luis Cea2 Magdalena Uber et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Environmental and Water Engineering Group, Department of Civil Engineering, Universidade da Coruña, A Coruña

Abstract. Soil erosion and suspended sediment transport understanding is an important issue in terms of soil and water resources management in the critical zone. In mesoscale watersheds (> 10 km2) the spatial distribution of potential sediment sources within the catchment associated to the rainfall dynamics are considered as the main factors of the observed suspended sediment flux variability within and between runoff events. Given the high spatial heterogeneity that can exist for such scales of interest, distributed physically based models of soil erosion and sediment transport are powerful tools to distinguish the specific effect of structural and functional connectivity on suspended sediment flux dynamics. As the spatial discretization of a model and its parameterization can crucially influence how structural connectivity of the catchment is represented in the model, this study analyzed the impact of modeling choices in terms of contributing drainage area (CDA) threshold to define the river network and of Manning's roughness parameter (n) on the sediment flux variability at the outlet of two geomorphological distinct watersheds. While the modelled liquid and solid discharges were found to be sensitive to these choices, the patterns of the modeled source contributions remained relatively similar when the CDA threshold was restricted to the range of 15 to 50 ha, n on the hillslopes to the range 0.4–0.8 and to 0.025–0.075 in the river. The comparison of both catchments showed that the actual location of sediment sources was more important than the choices made during discretization and parameterization of the model. Among the various structural connectivity indicators used to describe the geological sources, the mean distance to the stream was the most relevant proxy of the temporal characteristics of the modelled sedigraphs.

Magdalena Uber et al.

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Magdalena Uber et al.

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Modeled contributions of sediment sources to total suspended sediment flux in two mesoscale catchments. M. Uber, G. Nord, C. Legout, and L. Cea https://doi.org/10.17178/EROSION_MODEL.2020

Magdalena Uber et al.

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Short summary
Soil erosion and suspended sediment transport understanding is an important issue in terms of soil and water resources management. This study analyzes the impact of choices made during numerical model set-up on the modelled suspended sediment dynamics at the outlet of two meso scale watersheds. While the modelled liquid and solid discharges were found to be sensitive to these choices, the actual location of sediment sources in each catchment was the most important feature.
Soil erosion and suspended sediment transport understanding is an important issue in terms of...
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