Areal Modeling of Erosion for Environmental Nonpoint Applications (AMEENA)

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Virginia Tech


Erosion and sediment delivery from upland areas to waterbodies is a major problem impacting water quality in the United States and elsewhere. Measures to reduce these impacts are either targeted at reducing erosion on-site or at reducing delivery of sediment to waterbodies. AMEENA (Areal Modeling of Erosion for Environmental Nonpoint Applications) is a spatially distributed model that estimates erosion and deposition on a watershed scale by predicting erosion and transport over the landscape surface. Erosion is predicted based on the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), and sediment transport capacity is estimated as a function of upslope flow volume, local gradient, and land use. Gross erosion is routed to edge-of-stream with a routing algorithm that iteratively compares available sediment with transport capacity on a cell by cell basis from ridge cells to stream cells. The model is implemented completely within a raster GIS to facilitate use of the model as a tool to readily evaluate impact of land use practices on sediment delivery to streams.

AMEENA was validated using field data of net erosion and sediment deposition from three field studies. AMEENA predicted the spatial distribution of net erosion and deposition better than WaTEM/SEDEM which is a distributed parameter erosion model based on a similar modeling approach. AMEENA's suitability to simulate the impact of management practices such as filter strips and critical area planting was evaluated on plot (profile) scale and catchment scale simulations. Results of plot scale simulations were intuitive and the model proved more reasonable for these scenarios than did RUSLE2 and WEPP. The catchment scale study highlighted features of AMEENA that are not available in RUSLE2 and WEPP in terms of identifying erosion “hot spots” and the ability to utilize the explicit sediment flow path identification in locating best placement of off-site sediment control measures. Since AMEENA does not account for in-stream erosion processes, it is not suitable for simulating areas dominated by channel or gully erosion.



transport capacity, GIS, distributed modeling, sediment deposition, sediment yield, soil erosion