Watershed scale modeling of critical source areas of runoff generation and phosphorus transport

M. S. Srinivasan, Pierre Gérard-Marchant, Tamie L. Veith, William J. Gburek, Tammo S. Steenhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


A curve number based model, Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), and a physically based model, Soil Moisture Distribution and Routing (SMDR), were applied in a headwater watershed in Pennsylvania to identify runoff generation areas, as runoff areas have been shown to be critical for phosphorus management. SWAT performed better than SMDR in simulating daily streamflows over the four-year simulation period (Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient: SWAT, 0.62; SMDR, 0.33). Both models varied streamflow simulations seasonally as precipitation and watershed conditions varied. However, levels of agreement between simulated and observed flows were not consistent over seasons. SMDR, a variable source area based model, needs further improvement in model formulations to simulate large peak flows as observed. SWAT simulations matched the majority of observed peak flow events. SMDR overpredicted annual flow volumes, while SWAT underpredicted the same. Neither model routes runoff over the landscape to water bodies, which is critical to surface transport of phosphorus. SMDR representation of the watershed as grids may allow targeted management of phosphorus sources. SWAT representation of fields as hydrologic response units (HRUs) does not allow such targeted management. (JAWRA) (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-377
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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