Prioritization of Semi-Arid AgriculturalWatershed Using Morphometric and Principal Component Analysis, Remote Sensing, and GIS Techniques, the Zerqa River Watershed, Northern Jordan

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Remote sensing and GIS techniques were employed for prioritization of the Zerqa River watershed. Forty-three 4th order sub-watersheds were prioritized based on morphometric and Principal Component Analysis (PCA), in order to examine the effectiveness of morphometric parameters in watershed prioritization. A comparison has been carried out between the results achieved through applying the two methods of analysis (morphometric and PCA). Afterwards, suitable measures are proposed for soil and water conservation. Topo sheets and ASTER DEM have been employed to demarcate the 43 subwatersheds, to extract the drainage networks, and to compile the required thematic maps such as slope categories and elevation. LANDSAT 8 image (April-2015) is employed to generate land use/cover maps using ENVI (v 5.1) software. The soil map of the watershed has been digitized using Arc GIS software. Prioritization of the 43 sub-watersheds was performed using ten linear and shape parameters, and three parameters which are highly correlated with components 1 and 2. Subsequently, different sub-watersheds were prioritized by ascribing ranks based on the calculated compound parameters (Cp) using the two approaches. Comparison of the results revealed that prioritization of watersheds based on morphometric analysis is more consistent and serves for better decision making in conservation planning as compared with the PCA approach. The recommended soil conservation measures are prescribed in accordance with the specified priority, in order to avoid undesirable effects on land and environment. Sub-watersheds classified under high priority class are subjected to high erosion risk, thus, creating an urgent need for applying soil and water conservation measures. It is expected that decision makers will pay sufficient attention to the present results/information, activate programs encouraging soil conservation, integrated watershed management, and will continue working on the afforestation of the government-owned sloping lands. Such a viable approach can be applied at different parts of the rainfed highland areas to minimize soil erosion loss, and to increase infiltration and soil moisture in the soil profile, thus, reducing the impact of recurrent droughts and the possibility of flooding hazards.

Yahya Farhan
Ali Anbar
Nisrin Al-Shaikh
Rami Mousa
Agricultural Sciences