Effects of Spatial Aggregation of Soil Spatial Information on Watershed Hydrological Modeling

  • Published: 2012-04-27
  • 3363

LI Runkui, a postdoctoral researcher of CRE major in remote sensing application, studied on the effects of spatial aggregation of soil spatial information on watershed hydrological modeling and fruited his conclusions recently. His findings has been published on Hydrological Processes in a recent issue.

Many researchers have examined the impact of detailed soil spatial information on hydrological modelling due to the fact that such information serves as important input to hydrological modelling, yet is difficult and expensive to obtain. Most research has focused on the effects at single scales; however, the effects in the context of spatial aggregation across different scales are largely missing. This paper examines such effects by comparing the simulated runoffs across scales from watershed models based on two different levels of soil spatial information: the 10-m-resolution soil data derived from the Soil-Land Inference Model (SoLIM) and the 1:24000 scale Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database in the United States. The study was conducted at three different spatial scales: two at different watershed size levels (referred to as full watershed and sub-basin, respectively) and one at the model minimum simulation unit level. A fully distributed hydrologic model (WetSpa) and a semi-distributed model (SWAT) were used to assess the effects. The results show that at the minimum simulation unit level the differences in simulated runoff are large, but the differences gradually decrease as the spatial scale of the simulation units increases. For sub-basins larger than 10 km2 in the study area, stream flows simulated by spatially detailed SoLIM soil data do not significantly vary from those by SSURGO. The effects of spatial scale are shown to correlate with aggregation effect of the watershed routing process. The unique findings of this paper provide an important and unified perspective on the different views reported in the literature concerning how spatial detail of soil data affects watershed modelling. Different views result from different scales at which those studies were conducted. In addition, the findings offer a potentially useful basis for selecting details of soil spatial information appropriate for watershed modelling at a given scale. 
Difference between R-MAE and RD for different sub-basin sizes, SWAT-simulated water yields: (a) default parameter set; (b) parameter set calibrated with SoLIM; (c) parameter set calibrated with SSURGO