Soil erosion causes severe on- and off-site effects, including loss of organic matter, reductions in soil depth, sedimentation of reservoirs, eutrophication of water bodies, and clogging and smothering of spawning habitats. The involved sediment source-mobilization-delivery process is complex in space and time, depending on a multiplicity of factors that determine lateral sediment connectivity in catchment systems. Shortcomings of soil erosion models and connectivity approaches call for methodical improvement when it comes to assess lateral sediment connectivity in agricultural catchments. This study aims to (i) apply and evaluate different approaches, i.e., Index of Connectivity (IC), the Geospatial Interface for Water Erosion Prediction Project (GeoWEPP) soil erosion model, field mapping and (ii) test a connectivity-adapted version of GeoWEPP (i.e., “GeoWEPP-C”) in the context of detecting hot-spots for soil erosion and lateral fine sediment entry points to the drainage network in a medium-sized (138 km2
) agricultural catchment in Austria, further discussing their applicability in sediment management in agricultural catchments. The results revealed that (a) GeoWEPP is able to detect sub-catchments with high amount of soil erosion/sediment yield that represent manageable units in the context of soil erosion research and catchment management; (b) the combination of GeoWEPP modeling and field-based connectivity mapping is suitable for the delineation of lateral (i.e., field to stream) fine sediment connectivity hotspots; (c) the IC is a useful tool for a rapid Geographic Information System (GIS)-based assessment of structural connectivity. However, the IC showed significant limitations for agricultural catchments and functional aspects of connectivity; (d) the process-based GeoWEPP-C model can be seen as a methodical improvement when it comes to the assessment of lateral sediment connectivity in agricultural catchments.
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