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Modeling the hydrological impacts of land use/land cover changes in the Andassa watershed, Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia

Gashaw, Temesgen, Tulu, Taffa, Argaw, Mekuria, Worqlul, Abeyou W.
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.619-620 pp. 1394-1408
Landsat, Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, basins, dry season, forests, grasslands, groundwater flow, land cover, land use, least squares, planning, prediction, runoff, shrublands, water yield, watersheds, wet season, Ethiopia
Understanding the hydrological response of a watershed to land use/land cover (LULC) changes is imperative for water resources management planning. The objective of this study was to analyze the hydrological impacts of LULC changes in the Andassa watershed for a period of 1985–2015 and to predict the LULC change impact on the hydrological status in year 2045. The hybrid land use classification technique for classifying Landsat images (1985, 2000 and 2015); Cellular-Automata Markov (CA-Markov) for prediction of the 2030 and 2045 LULC states; the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for hydrological modeling were employed in the analyses. In order to isolate the impacts of LULC changes, the LULC maps were used independently while keeping the other SWAT inputs constant. The contribution of each of the LULC classes was examined with the Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR) model. The results showed that there was a continuous expansion of cultivated land and built-up area, and withdrawing of forest, shrubland and grassland during the 1985–2015 periods, which are expected to continue in the 2030 and 2045 periods. The LULC changes, which had occurred during the period of 1985 to 2015, had increased the annual flow (2.2%), wet seasonal flow (4.6%), surface runoff (9.3%) and water yield (2.4%). Conversely, the observed changes had reduced dry season flow (2.8%), lateral flow (5.7%), groundwater flow (7.8%) and ET (0.3%). The 2030 and 2045 LULC states are expected to further increase the annual and wet season flow, surface runoff and water yield, and reduce dry season flow, groundwater flow, lateral flow and ET. The change in hydrological components is a direct result of the significant transition from the vegetation to non-vegetation cover in the watershed. This suggests an urgent need to regulate the LULC in order to maintain the hydrological balance.