Comparison of pond-sedimentation data with a GIS-based USLE model of sediment yield for a small forested urban watershed

C. R. Mattheus, M. S. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban land covers are complex and heavily fragmented. A better understanding of how different urban land-cover types influence sediment yields is required from a land management perspective given rapid global population growth. This paper examines the effect of urban forest covers on soil erosion within a small watershed in northeastern Ohio that contains a retention pond. Sediment volumes emplaced within the pond over a 40-year period are compared against USLE-based erosion-model estimates to elucidate an erosion factor for the unknown forest cover effect. The USLE is applied for its ease of use, GIS-compatibility, and data availability. High erosion factors are resolved for the urban forest cover based on the pond's sediment record. These values comply with forest covers in other settings, but fall within the high end of the spectrum. Results provide a baseline for assessing model shortcomings and developing refined model versions that can provide urban planners with a straightforward means of erosion planning. Model calibration is possible at small watershed scales and single land-cover types. The USLE should provide land managers a quick and easy-to-use tool for evaluating erosion potential in urban settings across regional scales provided individual urban land-cover types are well-constrained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • GIS
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Sediment yield
  • Urban forest
  • USLE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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