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Temporal variation of suspended sediment transport in the Koga catchment, North Western Ethiopia and environmental implications

Yeshaneh, Eleni, Eder, Alexander, Blöschl, Günter
Hydrological processes 2014 v.28 no.24 pp. 5972-5984
agricultural land, hysteresis, irrigation, land use, rivers, sediment transport, sediment yield, sediments, suspended sediment, temporal variation, turbidity, vegetation, watersheds, wet season, Ethiopia
Event sediment transport and yield were studied for 45 events in the upstream part of the 260 km² agricultural Koga catchment that drains to an irrigation reservoir. Discharge and turbidity data were collected over a period of more than a year, accompanied by grab sampling. Turbidity was very well correlated with the sediment concentrations from the samples (r = 0.99), which allowed us to estimate the temporal patterns of sediment concentrations within events. The hysteresis patterns between discharge and sediment concentrations were analysed to provide insight into the different sediment sources. Anticlockwise patterns are the dominant hysteresis patterns in the area, suggesting smaller contributions of suspended sediment from the river channels than from the hillslopes and agricultural areas. Complicated types of hysteresis patterns were mostly observed for long events with multiple peaks. For a given discharge, sediment yields in August and September, when the catchment was almost completely covered with vegetation, were much smaller than during the rest of the rainy season. The hysteresis patterns and timing suggest that the sediment availability from the agricultural areas and hillslopes affects sediment yields more strongly than does peak discharge. Two distinct types of sediment rating curves were observed for the season when the agricultural land was covered with vegetation and when it was not, indicating the dominating contribution of land use/cover to sediment yields in the catchment. The rate of suspended sediment transport in the area was estimated as 25.6 t year⁻¹ ha⁻¹.