Hydrological Evaluation of Flow Diversion Terraces Using Downhill-Slope Calculation Method for High Resolution and Accuracy DEMs


Slope is an important topographical parameter in hydrological models. Dramatic changes in slope are produced due to micro variations of topography in flow diversion terrace (FDT) systems. Assessing the effectiveness of FDT on soil conservation yields different results using different slope calculation methods with different resolution and accuracy digital elevation models (DEMs). In this study, the ArcGIS built-in average-neighborhood-slope (ANS) method and a downhill-slope (DHS) method were used to calculate slopes for a small agricultural watershed in New Brunswick, Canada. Six DEMs were used, i.e., 1, 5 and 10 m resolution DEMs generated with conventional photogrammetric techniques, and 1, 5, and 10 m resolution DEMs derived from light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data. Calculated slopes were summarized for the whole watershed, a patch of FDT systems, and grassed flow channels in front of embankments in the patch. Results indicated that the DHS method produced smaller slopes than the ANS method with LiDAR-1m DEM along grasses flow channels. Furthermore, the mean L-factor derived from the DHS method was smaller than that derived from the ANS in terraces and grassed flow channels for the LiDAR-1m DEM. Finally, soil loss estimated from the DHS method using RUSLE was more consistent with measurement for the watershed than that from the ANS method when the LiDAR-1m DEM was used. The DHS method can provide accurate slopes along grassed flow channels and can be used to assess FDT systems using USLE-based models with high resolution and accuracy DEMs.