Water Conservation Science and Engineering

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 201–212 | Cite as

Modeling Hydrological Responses to Land Use Dynamics, Choke, Ethiopia

  • Agenagnew A. GessesseEmail author
  • Assefa M. Melesse
  • Fikru F. Abera
  • Anteneh Z. Abiy
Review Paper


The main objective of this study was to assess the hydrological response of the Choke mountain range to land use dynamics. Two watersheds, Muga and Suha watersheds, were selected for detailed evaluation and analysis. The study was conducted using integrated applications of remote sensing and the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The SWAT model was calibrated using Sequential Uncertainty Fitting (SUFI-2) algorithm in SWAT-CUP. Decadal land use maps (1985, 1995, and 2005) were used to simulate the hydrological responses. Simulated model results showed that over the past two decades (1985–2004), the total annual surface and lateral streamflows in the watershed increased at a rate of 1.2 mm/year and 0.57 mm/year, whereas the annual total groundwater flow and percolation in the basin decreased at a rate of 1.6 mm/year and 1.77 mm/year respectively. The decrease in the streamflow was more pronounced during the dry season (October to May), for which statistically significant declines of the base flow or the low flow at a rate of 0.37 m3/year and 0.73 m3/year in the Muga and Suha watersheds, respectively, were found. In the wet season (June to September), the peak flow has increased by 50% in Muga and 94% in Suha watersheds. Results of this study showed that the SWAT model can be an effective and useful tool for the assessment of response of watersheds to land use alterations.


Land use Remote sensing SWAT Watershed Choke Ethiopia 



The first author is grateful for the financial support from the University of Gondar for carrying out his PhD at Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) and also to Florida International University (FIU) for providing assistance in the 2-month research visit. We would like to thank U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earth Explorer and Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Global Digital Surface Model “LOS World 3D-30m” (AW3D30) Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency of Earth Observation Research Web site for kindly providing us to access satellite images. We also extend sincere thanks to the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity, National Meteorological Service Agency and Mapping Agency for kindly providing us with the data flow, rainfall and temperature data and topographic map, respectively.

Author Contributions

Agenagnew A. Gessesse conducted this study as part of his PhD Thesis under the guidance of Prof. Assefa M. Melesse who also reviewed the manuscript. Anteneh Z. Abiy has served as a peer mentor to the first author during summer 2018 for part of this manuscript preparation and contributed in the model setup, run and editing of the manuscript. Fikru F. Abera has also contributed to the data preparation and interpretation in the model, run and editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    Bewket W (2002) Land cover dynamics since the 1950s in Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Mt Res Dev 22(3):263–269Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hurni H, Tato K, Zeleke G (2005) The implications of changes in population, land use, and land management for surface runoff in the upper Nile Basin area of Ethiopia. Mt Res Dev 25(2):147–154Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bewket W, Sterk G (2005) Dynamics in land cover and its effect on stream flow in the Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Hydrol Processes: Int J 19(2):445–458Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Simane B, Zaitchik B, Ozdogan M (2013) Agroecosystem analysis of the choke mountain watersheds, Ethiopia. Sustainability 5(2):592–616Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ayalew D, Tesfaye K, Mamo G, Yitaferu B, Bayu W (2012) Variability of rainfall and its current trend in Amhara region, Ethiopia. Afr J Agric Res 7(10):1475–1486Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wondie M, Schneider W, Melesse AM, Teketay D (2011) Spatial and temporal land cover changes in the Simen Mountains National Park, a world heritage site in Northwestern Ethiopia. Remote Sens, 752–766Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Setegn SG, Srinivasan R, Dargahi B, Melesse AM (2009) Spatial delineation of soil erosion vulnerability in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia. Hydrol Processes: Int J 23(26):3738–3750Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mango LM, Melesse AM, McClain ME, Gann D, Setegn SG (2011) Land use and climate change impacts on the hydrology of the upper Mara River Basin, Kenya: results of a modeling study to support better resource management. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 15(7):2245–2258Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wang X, Shang S, Yang W, Melesse AM (2008) Simulation of an agricultural watershed using an improved curve number method in SWAT. Trans ASABE 51(4):1323–1339Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kebede W, Tefera M, Habitamu T, Alemayehu T (2014) Impact of land cover change on water quality and stream flow in lake Hawassa watershed of Ethiopia. Agric Sci 5(08):647–659Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Setegn SG, Melesse AM, Haiduk A, Webber D, Wang X, McClain ME (2014) Modeling hydrological variability of fresh water resources in the Rio Cobre watershed, Jamaica. Catena 120:81–90Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Devia GK, Ganasri BP, Dwarakish GS (2015) A review on hydrological models. Aquatic Procedia 4:1001–1007Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bai P, Liu X, Liang K, Liu X, Liu C (2017) A comparison of simple and complex versions of the Xinanjiang hydrological model in predicting runoff in ungauged basins. Hydrol Res 48(5):1282–1295Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gitau MW, Chaubey I (2010) Regionalization of SWAT model parameters for use in ungauged watersheds. Water 2(4):849–871Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Srinivasan R, Zhang X, Arnold J (2010) SWAT ungauged: hydrological budget and crop yield predictions in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Trans ASABE 35(5):1533–1546Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dessu SB, Melesse AM (2012) Modelling the rainfall–runoff process of the Mara River basin using the soil and water assessment tool. Hydrol Process 26(26):4038–4049Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dessu SB, Melesse AM (2013) Impact and uncertainties of climate change on the hydrology of the Mara River basin, Kenya/Tanzania. Hydrol Process 27(20):2973–2986Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dessu SB, Melesse AM, Bhat MG, McClain ME (2014) Assessment of water resources availability and demand in the Mara River Basin. Catena 115:104–114Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Addis HK, Strohmeier S, Ziadat F, Melaku ND, Klik A (2016) Modeling streamflow and sediment using SWAT in Ethiopian Highlands. Int J Agric Biol Eng 9(5):51–66Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Griensven AV, Ndomba P, Yalew S, Kilonzo F (2012) Critical review of SWAT applications in the upper Nile basin countries. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 16(9):3371–3381Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wang X, Yang W, Melesse AM (2008) Using hydrologic equivalent wetland concept within SWAT to estimate streamflow in watersheds with numerous wetlands. Trans ASABE 51(1):55–72Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wang X, Melesse AM, Yang W (2006) Influences of potential evapotranspiration estimation methods on SWAT’s hydrologic simulation in a northwestern Minnesota watershed. Trans ASABE 49(6):1755–1771Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Grey OP, Webber DFSG, Setegn SG, Melesse AM (2014) Application of the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT model) on a small tropical island (Great River watershed, Jamaica) as a tool in integrated watershed and coastal zone management. Revista de Biología Tropical 62:3Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mango LM, Melesse AM, McClain ME, Gann D, Setegn SG (2011) Hydro-meteorology and water budget of the Mara River Basin under land use change scenarios. Nile River Basin 49(6):1755–1771Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Perry M, Hollis D (2005) The development of a new set of long-term climate averages for the UK. Int J Climatol 25(8):1023–1039Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Yesuf HM, Assen M, Alamirew T, Melesse AM (2015) Modeling of sediment yield in Maybar gauged watershed using SWAT, northeast Ethiopia. Catena 127:191–205Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Setegn SG, Srinivasan R, Melesse AM, Dargahi B (2010) 2010 SWAT model application and prediction uncertainty analysis in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia. Hydrol Processes: Int J 24(3):357–367Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Getachew HE, Melesse AM (2012) The impact of land use change on the hydrology of the Angereb Watershed, Ethiopia. Int J Water Sci 1(6):1–7Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Setegn SG, Srinivasan R, Dargahi B (2008) Hydrological modelling in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia using SWAT mode. Open Hydrol J 2:1Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Mekonnen MA, Wörman A, Dargahi B, Gebeyehu A (2009) Hydrological modeling of Ethiopian catchments using limited data. Hydrol Processes: Int J 23(23):3401–3408Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tibebe D, Bewket W (2011) Surface runoff and soil erosion estimation using the SWAT model in the Keleta watershed, Ethiopia. Land Degradation Develop 22(6):551–564Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Fiseha BM, Setegn SG, Melesse AM, Volpi E, Fiori A (2013) Hydrological analysis of the Upper Tiber River Basin, Central Italy: a watershed modelling approach. Hydrol Process 27(16):2339–2351Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Krishna BK, Saikumar R, Sampath O, Nagendher T (2014) A review- impact of land use land cover change and best management practices in a watershed by using swat model. Int J Pure App Biosci 2(1):276–285Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Gassman PW, Sadeghi AM, Srinivasan R (2014) Applications of the SWAT model special section: overview and insights. J Environ Qual 43(1):1–8Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gholami A, Roshan MH, Shahedi K, Vafakhah M, Solaymani K (2016) Hydrological stream flow modeling in the Talar catchment (central section of the Alborz Mountains, north of Iran): parameterization and uncertainty analysis using SWAT-CUP. J Water Land Develop 30(1):57–69Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Smarzyńska K, Miatkowski Z (2016) Calibration and validation of SWAT model for estimating water balance and nitrogen losses in a small agricultural watershed in central Poland. J Water Land Develop 29(1):31–47Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Boughton WC (1911) A review of the USDA SCS curve number method. Soil Res 2012 27(3):511–523Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Green WH, Ampt GA (1911) Studies on soil phyics. J Agric Sci 4(1):1–24Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Neitsch SL, Arnold JG, Kiniry JR, Williams JR (2009) Soil and water assessment tool theoretical documentation version. Texas Water Resources Institute, 2011Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Premanand BD, Satishkumar U, Babu BM, Parasappa SK, Dandu MM, Kaleel I, Rajesh NL, Biradar SA (2018) QSWAT model calibration and uncertainty analysis for stream flow simulation in the Patapur micro-watershed using sequential uncertainty fitting method (SUFI-2). Int J Curr Microbiol App Sci 7(4):831–852Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Moriasi DN, Arnold JG, Van Liew MW, Bingner RL, Harmel RD, Veith TL (2007) Model evaluation guidelines for systematic quantification of accuracy in watershed simulations. Trans ASABE 50(3):885–900Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Khalid K, Ali MF, Rahman NFA, Mispan MR, Haron SH, Othman Z, Bachok MF (2016) Sensitivity analysis in watershed model using SUFI-2 algorithm. Procedia Eng 162:441–447Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Abbaspour K, Johnson C, Van Genuchten M (2004) Estimating uncertain flow and transport parameters using a sequential uncertainty fitting procedure. Vadose Zone J 3(4):1340–1552Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Malagò A, Pagliero B, Bouraoui F, Franchi NIM (2015) Comparing calibrated parameter sets of the SWAT model for the Scandinavian and Iberian peninsulas. Hydrol Sci J 60(5):949–967Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Schuol J, Abbaspour K (2007) Using monthly weather statistics to generate daily data in a SWAT model application to West Africa. Ecological modelling 201(3-4):301–311Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Cao Y, Zhang J, Yang M, Lei X, Guo B, Yang L, Zeng Z, Qu J (2018) Application of SWAT model with CMADS data to estimate hydrological elements and parameter uncertainty based on SUFI-2 Algorithm in the Lijiang river basin, China. Water 10(6):1–15Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Eslami M (2012) Theory of sensitivity in dynamic systems: an introduction. Springer Science & Business Media, p 1Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Abbaspour K, Vaghefi SA, Srinivasan R (2017) A guideline for successful calibration and uncertainty analysis for soil and water assessment: a review of papers from the 2016 International SWAT ConferenceGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Bewket W (2003) Towards integrated watershed management in highland Ethiopia: the Chemoga watershed case study. Trop Resour Manag Papers 31:1–174Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    CSA (2008) Summary and statistical report of the 2007 population and Housing census: Population size by age and sex. Addis Ababa: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Population Census CommissionGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Zeleke G, Hurni H (2001) Implications of land use and land cover dynamics for mountain resource degradation in the Northwestern Ethiopian highlands. Mount Res Develop 21(2):184–192Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Gebresamuel G, Singh BR, Dick Ø (2010) Land-use changes and their impacts on soil degradation and surface runoff of two catchments of Northern Ethiopia. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B–Soil and Plant Science 60(3):211–226Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Akale A, Dagnew D, Belete M, Tilahun S, Mekuria W, Steenhuis T (2017) Impact of soil depth and topography on the effectiveness of conservation practices on discharge and soil loss in the Ethiopian highlands. Land 6(4):78Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Scott DF, Lesch WI (1997) Streamflow responses to afforestation with Eucalyptus grandis and Pinus patula and to felling in the Mokobulaan experimental catchments, South Africa. J Hydrol 199(3-4):360–377Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Santos CA, Rocha F, Ramos TB, Alves LM, Mateus M, Oliveira RPD, Neves R (2019) Using a hydrologic model to assess the performance of regional climate models in a semi-arid watershed in Brazil. Water 11 (1):2–17Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Van Liew MW, Arnold JG, Garbrecht JD (2003) Hydrologic simulation on agricultural watersheds: choosing between two models. Trans ASAE 46(6):1539–1551Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Fernandez GP, Chescheir GM, Skaggs RW, Amatya DM (2005) Development and testing of watershed-scale models for poorly drained soils. Trans ASAE 48(2):639–652Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agenagnew A. Gessesse
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Assefa M. Melesse
    • 3
  • Fikru F. Abera
    • 4
  • Anteneh Z. Abiy
    • 3
  1. 1.Remote Sensing Research and Development Department, EORCEthiopian Space Science and Technology InstituteAddia AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of GondarGondarEthiopia
  3. 3.Department of Earth and EnvironmentFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringWollo UniversityWolloEthiopia

Personalised recommendations