Modeling the hydrologicEffects of Spatial Heterogeneity in Soil Hydraulic Properties in a Mountainous Watershed, Northwest China

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Chansheng He1, Xin Jin2, Lanhui Zhang2 and Xifeng Zhang2, (1)Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, United States, (2)LZU Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
Heterogeneity of soil hydraulic properties directly affects variations of hydrological processes at corresponding scales. Understanding spatial variation of soil hydraulic properties such as soil moisture is therefore fundamental for modeling watershed ecohydrological processes. As part of the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) funded ''Integrated Ecohydrological Research Plan of the Heihe River Watershed'', this study established an observation network that consists of sampling points, zones, and tributaries to analyze spatial variations of soil hydraulic properties in the Upper Reach of the Heihe River Watershed, a second largest inland river (terminal lake) with a drainage area of over 128,000 km2 in Northwest China. Spatial heterogeneity of soil properties was analyzed based on the large number of soil sampling and in situ observations. The spatial clustering method, Full-Order-CLK was employed to derive five soil heterogeneous zones (Configuration 97, 80, 65, 40, and 20). Subsequently, SWAT model was used to quantify the impact of the spatial heterogeneity of soil hydraulic properties on hydrologic process in the study watershed. Results show the simulations by the SWAT model with the spatially clustered soil hydraulic information from the field sampling data had much better representation of the soil heterogeneity and more accurate performance than the model using the average soil property values for each soil type derived from the coarse soil datasets (Gansu Soil Handbook at 1:1,000,000 scale). Thus, incorporating detailed field sampling soil heterogeneity data greatly improves performance in hydrologic modeling.