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Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) for Mapping Watershed Erosion Potential
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2022 Authors: Cartwright J.H.

Evaluating soil erosion is often assessed with traditional soil loss models like the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). These models provide quantitative output for sediment yield and are often integrated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The work described here is focused on transitioning towards a qualitative assessment of erosion potential with Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) for improved decision support and management prioritization. The foundation of this work conceptually defined watershed erosion potential based on terrain slope, geomorphology, land cover, and soil erodibility. These criteria were evaluated with a weighted linear combination (WLC) model for generalized erosion potential. Expert input was added through MCDA with the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). The AHP allows for experts to rank criteria, providing a quantitative metric (weight) for qualitative data. The individual AHP weights were altered in one percent increments to help identify areas of alignment or commonality. These areas were used to identify outliers and to develop an analysis mask for management area prioritization. The WLC, AHP, and SWAT output data were compared. There was some visual alignment between the WLC and AHP erosion potential output with the SWAT sediment yield output. The comparisons however were not a direct correlation between the data sets. General observations show similar results between the qualitative and quantitative erosion assessment approaches with alignment in the upper and lower ranks of erosion potential and sediment yield.

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