Spatio-temporal patterns of soil erosion and suspended sediment dynamics in the Mekong River Basin

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Abstract

Understanding of the distribution patterns of sediment erosion, concentration and transport in river basins is critically important as sediment plays a major role in river basin hydrophysical and ecological processes. In this study, we proposed an integrated framework for the assessment of sediment dynamics, including soil erosion (SE), suspended sediment load (SSL) and suspended sediment concentration (SSC), and applied this framework to the Mekong River Basin. The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model was adopted with a geographic information system to assess SE and was coupled with a sediment accumulation and a routing scheme to simulate SSL. This framework also analyzed Landsat imagery captured between 1987 and 2000 together with ground observations to interpolate spatio-temporal patterns of SSC. The simulated SSL results from 1987 to 2000 showed the relative root mean square error of 41% and coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.89. The polynomial relationship of the near infrared exoatmospheric reflectance and the band 4 wavelength (760–900 nm) to the observed SSC at 9 sites demonstrated the good agreement (overall relative RMSE = 5.2%, R2 = 0.87). The result found that the severe SE occurs in the upper (China and Lao PDR) and lower (western part of Vietnam) regions. The SSC in the rainy season (June–November) showed increasing and decreasing trends longitudinally in the upper (China and Lao PDR) and lower regions (Cambodia), respectively, while the longitudinal profile of SSL showed a fluctuating trend along the river in the early rainy season. Overall, the results described the unique spatio-temporal patterns of SE, SSL and SSC in the Mekong River Basin. Thus, the proposed integrated framework is useful for elucidating complex process of sediment generation and transport in the land and river systems of large river basins.

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APA

Suif, Z., Fleifle, A., Yoshimura, C., & Saavedra, O. (2016). Spatio-temporal patterns of soil erosion and suspended sediment dynamics in the Mekong River Basin. Science of the Total Environment, 568, 933–945. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.134

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