Estimation of sediment transport capacity (STC) plays a crucial role in simulating soil erosion using any physics-based models. In this research, we aim to investigate the pros and cons of six popular STC methods (namely, Shear velocity, Kilinc-Richardson (KR), Effective stream power, Slope and unit discharge, Englund-Hansen (EH), and Unit stream power) for soil erosion/deposition simulation at watershed scales. An in-depth analysis was performed using the selected STC methods integrated into the Grid Surface Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis model for investigating the changes in morphology at spatial-temporal scales at the Cheoncheon watershed, South Korea, over three storm events. Conclusions were drawn as follows. (1) Due to the ability of the KR and EH methods to include an additional parameter (i.e., erodibility coefficient), they outperformed others by producing more accurate simulation results of sediment concentration predictions. The KR method also proved to be superior to the EH method when it showed a more suitable for sediment concentration simulations with a wide range of sediment size and forcing magnitude. (2) We further selected 2 STC methods among the 6 methods to deeply explore the spatial distribution of erosion/deposition. The overall results were more agreeable. For instance, the phenomenon of erosion mainly occurred upstream of watersheds with steep slopes and unbalanced initial sediment concentrations, whereas deposition typically appeared at locations with flat terrain (or along the mainstream). The EH method demonstrated the influence of topography (e.g., gradient slope) on accretionary erosion/deposition results more significantly than the KR method. The obtained results contribute a new understanding of rainfall-sediment-runoff processes and provide fundamental plans for soil conservation in watersheds.
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