Hydrological and sediment yield modelling in Lake Tana Basin, Blue Nile Ethiopia

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Land and water resources degradation are the major problems on the Ethiopian highlands. Poor land use practices and improper management systems have played a significant role in causing high soil erosion rates, sediment transport and loss of agricultural nutrients. So far limited meas-ures have been taken to combat the problems. In this study a physically based watershed model, SWAT2005 was applied to the Northern Highlands of Ethiopia for modelling of the hydrology and sediment yield. The main objective of this study was to test the performance and feasibility of SWAT2005 model to examine the influence of topography, land use, soil and climatic condi-tion on streamflows, soil erosion and sediment yield. The model was calibrated and validated on four tributaries of Lake Tana as well as Anjeni watershed using SUFI-2, GLUE and ParaSol algo-rithms. SWAT and GIS based decision support system (MCE analysis) were also used to identify the most erosion prone areas in the Lake Tana Basin. Streamflows are more sensitive to the hy-drological response unites definition thresholds than subbasin discretization. Prediction of sedi-ment yield is highly sensitive to subbasin size and slope discretization. Baseflow is an important component of the total discharge within the study area that contributes more than the surface runoff. There is a good agreement between the measured and simulated flows and sediment yields with higher values of coefficients of determination and Nash Sutcliffe efficiency. The an-nual average measured sediment yield in Anjeni watershed was 24.6 tonnes/ha. The annual aver-age simulated sediment yield was 27.8 and 29.5 tonnes/ha for calibration and validation periods, respectively. The SWAT model indicated that 18.5 % of the Lake Tana Basin is erosion potential areas. Whereas the MCE result indicated that 25.5 % of the basin are erosion potential areas. The calibrated model can be used for further analysis of the effect of climate and land use change as well as other different management scenarios on streamflows and soil erosion. The result of the study could help different stakeholders to plan and implement appropriate soil and water conser-vation strategies.