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Hydrology 2018, 5(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology5020029

Assessing the Difference between Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) Simulated Pre-Development and Observed Developed Loading Regimes

1
School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 203-T ABNR Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
2
Institute of Water Security and Science, West Virginia University, 4121 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
3
Davis College, Schools of Agriculture and Food, and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, 4121 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 May 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 24 May 2018 / Published: 26 May 2018
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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to assess the difference between Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) simulated pre-development and contemporary developed loading regimes in a mixed-land-use watershed of the central United States (US). Native land cover based on soil characteristics was used to simulate pre-development loading regimes using The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Loading targets were calculated for each major element of a pre-development loading regime. Simulated pre-development conditions were associated with increased retention and decreased export of sediment and nutrients when compared to observed developed conditions. Differences between simulated pre-development and observed developed maximum daily yields (loads per unit area) of suspended sediment (SS), total phosphorus (TP), and total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) ranged from 35.7 to 59.6 Mg km−2 (SS); 23.3 to 52.5 kg km−2 (TP); and, 113.2 to 200.8 kg km−2 (TIN), respectively. Average annual maximum daily load was less during simulated pre-development conditions when compared to observed developed conditions by ranges of 1,307 to 6,452 Mg day−1 (SS), 0.8 to 5.4 kg day−1 (TP), and 4.9 to 26.9 kg day−1 (TIN), respectively. Hydrologic modeling results indicated that the differences in annual maximum daily load were causally linked to land use and land cover influence on sediment and nutrient loading. The differences between SWAT simulated pre-development and observed contemporary loading regimes from this study point to a need for practical loading targets that support contemporary management and integrated flow and pollutant loading regimes. View Full-Text
Keywords: sediment; nitrogen; phosphorus; ecohydrology; pre-settlement; SWAT sediment; nitrogen; phosphorus; ecohydrology; pre-settlement; SWAT
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Zeiger, S.J.; Hubbart, J.A. Assessing the Difference between Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) Simulated Pre-Development and Observed Developed Loading Regimes. Hydrology 2018, 5, 29.

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