Articles | Volume 19, issue 3
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 1293–1306, 2015
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 1293–1306, 2015

Research article 06 Mar 2015

Research article | 06 Mar 2015

Modeling suspended sediment sources and transport in the Ishikari River basin, Japan, using SPARROW

W. L. Duan2,1, B. He1, K. Takara2, P. P. Luo4,3, D. Nover5, and M. C. Hu2 W. L. Duan et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, 210008, China
  • 2Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • 3Institute of Hydraulic Structure Engineering and Water Environment, College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
  • 4Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, United Nations University, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
  • 5AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, US Environmental Protection Agency, Global Change Research Group, Washington, D.C., 20010, USA

Abstract. It is important to understand the mechanisms that control the fate and transport of suspended sediment (SS) in rivers, because high suspended sediment loads have significant impacts on riverine hydroecology. In this study, the SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regression on Watershed Attributes) watershed model was applied to estimate the sources and transport of SS in surface waters of the Ishikari River basin (14 330 km2), the largest watershed in Hokkaido, Japan. The final developed SPARROW model has four source variables (developing lands, forest lands, agricultural lands, and stream channels), three landscape delivery variables (slope, soil permeability, and precipitation), two in-stream loss coefficients, including small streams (streams with drainage area < 200 km2) and large streams, and reservoir attenuation. The model was calibrated using measurements of SS from 31 monitoring sites of mixed spatial data on topography, soils and stream hydrography. Calibration results explain approximately 96% (R2) of the spatial variability in the natural logarithm mean annual SS flux (kg yr−1) and display relatively small prediction errors at the 31 monitoring stations. Results show that developing land is associated with the largest sediment yield at around 1006 kg km−2 yr−1, followed by agricultural land (234 kg km−2 yr−1). Estimation of incremental yields shows that 35% comes from agricultural lands, 23% from forested lands, 23% from developing lands, and 19% from stream channels. The results of this study improve our understanding of sediment production and transportation in the Ishikari River basin in general, which will benefit both the scientific and management communities in safeguarding water resources.